I've seen a lot movies about love in my life and the more I see, the less I like happy endings. Indeed, I kind of abhor them. And it's not that I'm a depressed, selfish, unemotional being. On the contrary, I'm excessively positive and have a good attitude towards life but the way love stories are commonly portrayed on screen, I simply can't stand them.
The archetypical structure of boy meets girl, they have issues, break-up and reconcile no longer works for me. Most recently I watched 5 to 7 and found it totally amazing. It's an unconventional love story, yet it does include many archetypes of a romantic movie. And there's one reason I don't like happy endings at all and that's because I experience no catharsis or empathy with the story or characters, even if those are engaging, like Silver Linings Playbook. Actually, the one thing I like the most about that film is the reference it makes to A Farewell to Arms (you absolutely need to read it!). That's the kind of love story I love, when the couple doesn't live happily ever after. Here's what Bradley Cooper's character says about the novel:
I mean the whole time — let me just break it down for you — the whole time you’re rooting for this Hemingway guy to survive the war and to be with the woman that he loves, Catherine Barkley… and he does. He does. He survives the war, after getting blown up he survives it, and he escapes to Switzerland with Catherine. But now Catherine’s pregnant. Isn’t that wonderful? She’s pregnant. And they escape up into the mountains and they’re gonna be happy, and they’re gonna be drinking wine and they dance — they both like to dance with each other, there’s scenes of them dancing, which was boring, but I liked it, because they were happy. You think he ends it there? No! He writes another ending. She dies, Dad! I mean, the world’s hard enough as it is, guys. It’s fucking hard enough as it is. Can’t somebody say, “Hey, let’s be positive? Let’s have a good ending to the story?
Bearing that in mind, it's an obvious self-reference about what Silver Linings is going to be about: a love story with a happy ending. For precisely that reason I decided to present you 5 heartbreaking romantic movies you should totally check out. The following content may contain spoilers.
Derek Cianfrance's 2010 indie Blue Valentine came out of nowhere and instantly became, not only a fan favorite, but a must for everyone who's fallen in love and been disenchanted. It's genuinely a story about relationships, the issues any conventional couple face and, most important, the disillusion that love causes in people. The seemingly open ending may lead people to think that Dean and Cindy will be together. But there's plenty of evidence that suggests the contrary. The way Dean says goodbye to Frankie, the implications of all Dean and Cindy have been through and, last but not least, it's symbolic that they break-up on July 4th. For the first time, they get to be completely honest with each other and once they accept their realities they decided to end the marriage.
No movie in recent years feels as compelling and attractive as Blue Valentine. It's an examination of love in modern times and doesn't feel out the place.
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Celeste and Jesse Forever is basically a rom-com. It's almost impossible you don't feel sympathy for the two characters. They are "Best Ex". If the terms looks awkward once you've seen the film you won't disagree. Celeste has a good job, is well paid and has all the comfort she can buy. Jesse is an immature man that hasn't grown-up yet, living in Celeste's garage. When they were together, Celeste always complained about Jesse's irresponsibility and carelessness about things and life. That explains why they broke up but it's only when they are apart that the story moves on. For better or worse, things change for both characters and they grow-up too, even if they're in pain. The best scenes of the movie are those when you see Celeste and Jesse suffering, in doubt or fear.
In the end, Celeste and Jesse are reunited by pain acknowledging that they had the best moments of life while together, still they accept they are not meant for each other and the last farewell is a bitter sweet goodbye.
Blue Is the Warmest Color
The 2013 Palme d'Or Blue Is the Warmest Color, loosely based in the graphic novel of the same name, has been considered the first great love story of the 21st Century. Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux's astounding performances were praised almost unanimously as well. The three hour long movie examines the relationship between these two young women. During the film, we can see how the innocent Adèle experiences the good and bad sides of love. Without noticing it we also watch how, slowly but progressively, the two characters mature. They go from happiness to suffering, from love to pain. And the film reaches its climax when Adèle and Léa reunite several time after their horrible breaking-up.
The air of sadness, yearning and melancholy transmitted by the story is the great accomplishment of the film. Even if you love happy endings you'll love this sorrowful ending.
Nine 1/2 Half Weeks
28 years before the unwatchable Fifty Shades of Grey, Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke starred in Nine 1/2 Half Weeks. It doesn't matter if you love Fifty Shades of Grey to hell, the movie rips off some of Nine 1/2 Half Weeks, however Fifty Shades isn't slightly as engaging as the latter. What director Sam Taylor failed to portray in her movie with Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, Rourke and Basinger, hands down, achieved: chemistry, passion and intensity. John Gray is a strange and we don't actually know anything about him until the very end of the story. Elizabeth McGraw is a divorced woman who, shortly after meeting John, falls for him. He didn't even have to seduce her. He only teased with her and together they began a relationship that will test their fears and desires. For all accounts, Elizabeth is everything Dakota Johnson's character should have been in Fifty Shades.
In Nine 1/2 Half Weeks there's love, passion, intrigue and deception. When you fail to recognize yourself in the eyes of the other it can only mean two things: either you have change for better or for worse. Fortunately (and I seriously mean it), John and Elizabeth end heartbroken.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is easily my all time favorite love story movie. I admittedly recognize I cried with it. When I first approach the movie I didn't know it was a musical (and I'm not very fond of musicals either) but I gave it a try and I'm glad I did. I consider Audrey Hepburn to be the most beautiful actress in film history but Catherine Deneuve stands second place. The story of Guy and Geneviève is full of love. They also dreamed about having a baby and name it François but things get complicated when war starts. Soon after Guy leaves, Geneviève learns she's pregnant and as time goes by she stops hearing word from Guy, consequently she thinks he died fighting in the war. Being pregnant, Geneviève meets Roland, who falls in love with her the moment he sees her, and despite her condition he proposes and marries her. Later on we find out that Guy was seriously injured, making impossible for him to contact Geneviève. When he returns Cherbourg he learns that Geneviève married and left the town so he ends up marrying Madeleine, a girl who took care of his mother in his absence.
The end of the movie is fascinating. One snowy winter night Geneviève stops at Guy's service station. They talk briefly about what happened with their lives and the shocking moment comes for everybody. Geneviève tells Guy that Francoise is her daughter but he didn't even want to see her and asks Geneviève to leave. Imagine how horrible and painful it would have been for Guy to learn she had a daughter with the woman he loved the most but he sees the little girl as a complete stranger.
The world’s hard enough as it is but we don't necessarily have to have happily ever afters and corny happy endings. From time to time we can allow ourselves to enjoy suffering. It sounds creepy, I know, but I 'd love to see any day stories like these in cinema rather than the regular love stories.