9 Films That Try To Understand Love


Unlike most movies concerned with love, these films attempt to get at what really goes down in relationships. Basketcase characters troubled with age gaps, loneliness, death, and mental illness offer more insight on relationships than the typical “indie quirky love” or rom com. For those who get off on realism, these onscreen relationships will make you go, “Aha! I’ve felt that before. That’s so true!”

He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (À la folie… pas du tout) (2002, dir. Laetitia Colombani)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2d8uitPvMU&w=575&h=461]

Watch Angelique’s (Audrey Tautou) obsessive tendencies. Relate. Once the film’s point of view shifts and presents Angelique’s lover’s outlook, reevaluate crushing behavior. Walk away considering the possibility that there’s a reason you get too infatuated with people. It’s okay, you might just be crazy. Now go see a psychiatrist.

Anything Else (2003, dir. Woody Allen)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydT1kEM-Q7Y&w=575&h=357]

Despite Amanda Chase’s (Christina Ricci) baggage (an eating disorder and a mother who crashes at her apartment), boyfriend Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs) sees past these idiosyncrasies and sincerely tries to make things work. Why’d I put this on the list and not Annie Hall or Manhattan? Because although this isn’t Allen’s best, it’s one of his few recent films that features an actress like Christina Ricci who, unlike Scarlett Johansson, isn’t the conventional Hollywood babe. Refreshing.

Closer (2004, dir. Mike Nichols)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlyqGmPXgBI&w=575&h=357]

As much as you think you love someone, overcoming sexual desire is often the true test of commitment. Lust and temptation interfere with two couples’ relationships when Dan (Jude Law), Anna (Julia Roberts), Alice (Natalie Portman) and Larry’s (Clive Owen) lives intertwine. This film hardly focuses on the lovey-dovey; it’s instead concerned with innate carnality and forbidden sex and its aftermath.

Shopgirl (2005, dir. Anand Tucker)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YODMeNOSofo&w=575&h=357]

Mirabelle (Claire Danes), moves to Los Angeles with artistic aspirations but instead becomes a sales girl. She falls for both an older businessman, Ray Porter (Steve Martin), and an unsuccessful musician, Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman). Shots of Mirabelle in her apartment capture the mundane, bleak feeling of not only living alone but of being alone. It’s nice to be reminded that life can be really boring without having someone to share it with.

Broken English (2007, dir. Zoe R. Cassavetes)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ynjdDukPxw&w=575&h=357]

Resist making an OK Cupid account. Nora (Parker Posey), proves there’s hope for the anxious, self deprecating, and old. After terrible luck with men, Nora unexpectedly meets a younger, sexy, French man, Julien (Melvil Poupad) who she’s skeptical to open up to. Nora’s several breakdowns suggest it’s hard to maintain a stable relationship if you can’t accept yourself or the possibility of someone else accepting you. Broken English is the kick in the butt you need to stop being so down on yourself.