The mention of Valentine’s Day often makes us scourge through Netflix to find classic rom-coms that have reigned supreme for decades, namely Titanic, The Notebook, My Fair Lady and more.
More often than not, we find ourselves engrossed in “feel-good” rom-coms, using the films as a way of escape from the harsh reality. From fawning over the leads kissing amidst a heavy downpour or feeling frustrated at angsty heartbreaks, rom-coms supply us with memorable scenes and dialogues that remain immortalised within our minds.
However, not every love story is the same, and often they transcend these stereotypical tropes to make way for usual and non-traditional stories for misfits, outcasts and more. These films depict stories that manage to see romance blossoming in the most bizarre situations between the unlikeliest couples.
Here are the five most unconventional romantic movies to watch on Netflix:
The 5 most unconventional romantic movies to watch on Netflix
5. Tramps (Adam Leon, 2016)
Starring Grace Van patten and Callum Turner, the film sees an unlikely urban romance bloom between the leads paired together to carry out a deal. However, when things go awry, they must team up and find the suitcase while dealing with their burgeoning feelings.
As a low-budget indie film whose sensibility essentially mirrors New York’s, it is a pleasant rom-com set in the most unlikely premises. With sublime and well-developed chemistry, the leads fall in love awkwardly and effortlessly against the backdrop of the city, which seems to be an integral part of their simple journey.
Available: All regions
4. Shrek (Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson, 2001)
Children’s fairytales have often set the global beauty standards, defining the usual traits of a Prince Charming or the princess, usually portraying the latter to be a damsel in distress. Shrek starts off on a similar note before subverting these ideals and carrying out the same across all the films in its franchise. Being the first film in the franchise, this 2001 flick sees a green, temperamental ogre named Shrek undertake a daunting journey with his friend Donkey to rescue Princess Fiona from the dragon tower. Soon, they fall in love.
Voiced by Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz, the film won the first-ever Academy Award for the Best Adapted Screenplay. It paints the unusual love story between an ogre and a human and shows how the human willingly transforms to be with the one she loves, transcending all the judgmental stares from her fellow peers.
Available: Netflix UK, Canada, Australia, India
3. Secretary (Steven Shainberg, 2002)
Adapted from the controversial and eponymous short story by Mary Gaitskill, the film stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as the secretary from a dysfunctional family. After being released from the mental institution for self-harm, she takes up the job at a lawyer’s office. However, she soon indulges in a bizarre relationship with her boss, who is a part of the BDSM world and even indulges in pet play.
Rife with twisted desires, the director is delicate and sensual in dealing with the subject matter. The unusual romance that blooms between the boss and the secretary, despite their bizarre master-pet relationship, leads to an epic climax scene where Gyllenhaal’s show of immense self-restraint and resilience melts the cold boss’ exterior, leading to an eventual happy ending in their story, further emphasising the dynamic.
Available: Netflix US, Australia
2. The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)
Set during the Cold War, a lonely janitor named Elisa finds a secret experiment with an amphibian-like humanoid creature. Government agents hold the latter for experimental observation, and he soon develops an intimate bond with the lonely woman who is determined to rescue him and shelter him in her bathtub.
Winning four Academy Awards out of the thirteen nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, del Toro’s The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins and others in prominent roles. This dark and twisted fantasy love story see two misunderstood beings finding love and understanding in one another despite their various anatomical and physiological differences.
Available: Netflix UK
1. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)
As a master of colour and symmetry, Wes Anderson brought to screen the most non-traditional form of romance between two children, preserving the innocence and sanctity of their relationship. An escape from reality for young lovers Sam and Suzy, the film sees the blossoming of a juvenile romance as they try to elope from the respective oppressive apparatuses they belong to.
Anderson had referred to “feeling” this romance as a child when all he could think about was “what might happen”. Starring Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Bill Murray, Edward Norton and Bruce Willis, among others, this fantastical journey transcends the typical genres of romance and ventures into a world of warmth and naivete.
Available: Netflix US, UK