Romance and attraction have been stated many times by many people as two very prominent components in the mixture of survival and socialization. We’ve seen in movies and we’ve read in novels the sweet stories of men and women falling for each other, by sacrificing their wrongs and improving upon their rights, in order to channel the feelings of love from their desired partner towards themselves. There are poems out there that highlight the beauty of love, and describe in detail the importance and benefits of finding your soul mate. In fact, romance is probably the one topic of discussion that has been referred to in all forms of art, and that is probably because it’s part of how we feel inside, which is why art is commonly described as the translation of our emotions into images, words, expressions, etc.
There are some pieces of art that ask, though, despite it supposedly being proven that we know all there is to know about this feeling of indescribably deep affection, whether it is authentic and felt. Does true love really exist? Well, I’m not one to answer that question, and I don’t think any of the movies below really provide a straitjacket response to it. What they do, is provide a base where we are made to ask it ourselves. The solution is often left to interpretation, but in order to understand the query better, here are twelve films that have shaped it into a near-complete structure. Here is the list of best movies that question existence of true love.
12. Gone Girl (2014)
From a distance, I’d have no trouble in describing ‘Gone Girl’ as an evil film, with evil characters who have evil motivations. When I look closer though, what I see is an appreciable understanding of human beings. The film follows the story of a man whose wife has gone missing. Along with the main part of the plot which involves tracking down her whereabouts and possibly providing an explanation for her disappearance is this other story, read out from the woman’s diary, that describes how the couple was when they were together. As the movie progresses, one starts to notice both subtle and discrete happenings during their period of closeness that makes them doubt the existence of any form of actual affection between the two. What seals the deal is the ending though, which is sudden and unexpected, taking you off guard, but making you think about how far people go in order to hide deep within the facade of love.
11. 10 (1979)
’10’ is a comedy at heart, but it gets to ask deep questions like the one upon which this article is based whenever its main character runs into certain situations. A 42 year old married man comes across a sweet, beautiful, and seductive woman from over his car window, and is immediately infatuated. He does everything in his power to trail and follow her around in order to grab her attention, as he believes that she is the most perfect woman in the world, and the right one for him. The film then takes a sudden halt midway into its third act, with Ravel’s Bolero taking up decibels in the background, as our protagonist comes face to face with the woman of his dreams. He finds out that what he thought she would be isn’t what she ended up becoming, and in a beautiful moment set within a darkly lit room, advises her while pondering himself about what love is, and whether soul mates are in fact, for real.
10. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
‘(500) Days of Summer’ mainly works because of how well it depicts a broken romance. We know it from the start, but because of the strongly written characters and magnificent performances, by the third act of the film, we just can’t accept the fact that the leading couple won’t make it. The film argues that that’s what love is. There are no fixed beginnings, no promising middles, but there does exist an end to it all, in one way or another. Though the message is one many may find hard to accept, the film treats love as a sort of game. Having a one true love is a bunch of hogwash, it claims. We were put in this world to practice, familiarize, live, and die, and we only have a couple of years to get through it all. Therefore, go out, seek new things to get interested by and do not repress your sad memories. Instead, learn from it, and one day you might meet someone who fits you just right, but maybe, just maybe… they won’t.
9. The Lobster (2015)
Is love based on sacrifice or acceptance? Are there rules to it, or does it just happen? ‘The Lobster’, with its brilliantly innovative story about a dystopian future where love is conditioned and everything is done in an orderly manner, beautifully carves two characters out who feel like they genuinely have some sort of affection for each other. In this world, attraction isn’t simply based on emotions. Instead, one is required to have something similar to their partner, a child to test their togetherness, and a deadline for finding themselves a mate. As we connect with the couple in the picture, it slowly becomes clearer to us that maybe true love does have a place in this world. Despite all odds, it is possible for you to find the one you’re happiest with. Quite shockingly though, not even the man and the woman leading the film seem to believe in such things by the end, as they have been mechanized to at least an extent, and they are left to think that a deep connection can only be brought out by proving things rather than feeling them.
8. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
‘Leaving Las Vegas’ is a film that celebrates the outcasts. One is an alcoholic, hoping to drink himself to death, and the other is a prostitute. By some strange coincidence, the two find each other in the loud and busy streets of Las Vegas, and click instantly. The truth still holds that they are the unwanteds of society, and therefore both of them feel something for each other, but are confused about their relationship and its stance. It is evident that there is a degree of love and care within the relationship, but for some reason there seems to be a lack of commitment. Episodes that take place during their time together like the woman holding out for the drunkard of a boyfriend she has do give us a sense of closeness, but it never is tight. Maybe that’s all that love is. It could just be acceptance brought on by physical, mental, or even sexual attraction, but that’s all it ever is: acceptance. ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ is a beautiful film with a stunning career-best performance from Nicolas Cage.
7. American Beauty (1999)
‘American Beauty’ is a very powerful film starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. Film critic Roger Ebert described this movie as “about a man who fears growing older, losing the hope of true love and not being respected by those who know him best” and that’s a good way to define its crux. ‘American Beauty’ has a strong base brought on by the protagonist, Lester Burnham’s thoughts. He believes that all love is is a societal pressure, and there never really exists a soulmate. He falls for his daughter’s friend but society sets them apart. Even though he gets his subject of desire by the end, he cannot feel anything for her, simply because of the notion in his mind that love is dead. The film is like a floating ship on unsteady waters, as it goes from humorous in one scene to tragic in the next. When we feel alone, unwanted, unloved, and depressed, maybe all of us become like that ship, unsteady and unsure of what is to come.
6. La La Land (2016)
Sometimes you may think that everything is working out between both you and your partner, but even then, an utterly unexplainable event may tear the two of you apart. At least, that is what this movie hints towards, and the thought isn’t one you can shove aside deeming it to be too unrealistic. The film depicts the building up of a couple, from humble beginnings to little fights and the works. As sweet as it is, by the third act it turns tables and becomes darker and sadder. The ending is bound to leave many in tears, but it does open up a lot of questions. What was it that worked with the couple? What didn’t? Had we seen more, where could this have headed? Had they really loved each other? If not, what is it that bonds two people when they say that they are attracted towards one another?
5. Her (2013)
The lonely look for connections in every nook and corner of the world, as it gives them sense and hope. In ‘Her’, Theodore, the victim of an unhappy marriage and oncoming divorce finds someone to confide in with his operating system, given a voice to by Samantha, a virtual assistant. The film believes that love is as personal as it is intimate, and it only works if there is a form of trust between both parties. Theodore and Samantha find themselves growing closer and closer to each other, thereby being isolated from the rest of the world. When such a bond is broken, the heartbreak that follows is indescribable. I like to think that this movie is Theodore’s slow and painful realization that he is the only human in the couple, and that Samantha is never as alone as he is, because she cannot feel. People aren’t computerized beings – we fall and we cry. It’s not pleasant to think of, but that is what we are, and pain is all we feel when we realize that something we expected to happen isn’t what does. We are weak, and we fear the wake up call.
4. In the Mood for Love (2000)
‘In the Mood for Love’ is a film about two confused people and their promise to hold a platonic relationship with each other. They do so because of a dark truth that they try to bury within their minds, relating to their significant others, who are both cheating on them. What they form together is a beautiful friendship, but none of them are sure if its based on mutual understanding or a way of getting back. One wrong move, and they are helpless, not knowing what to do. Maybe the both of them did in fact love one another, the movie never tells us. What they did lack though, is the practice of expressing themselves, because all the while they appear to be very good at understanding other people. The film does display happy moments within this uneasy friendship, in the form of a shoulder to cry on. They may not show it, but it is clear that the couple could not go on without each other during this tough period in both their lives. That’s why the film gets all the more sadder when they realize that their idea of a tender relation has little chance of working out.
3. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Stanley Kubrick’s dark piece questions the existence of a fruitful and trustworthy love, as it starts off with an extramarital experience related to a man by his drunken wife, that both shocks and disturbs him. Following this is a long walk he takes down the streets in an attempt to contemplate what he had just heard. ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ could be seen as the way someone gets over things by being surrounded by different experiences. Considered by few to be a black comedy, the film does have a moment of confrontation, where the husband and wife decide what is to be done with their relationship. The two agree that there couldn’t exist something as Utopian a concept as true love between them, and that they have got to live with themselves and accept what each other has to offer. The wife gives a possible solution to all their problems, which takes shape as the last word spoken in the picture.
2. Annie Hall (1977)
‘Annie Hall’ is a romantic comedy with a message. The film is about a relationship built upon mutual understanding, love, and actual care and concern towards one another, but despite all that, it fails. Maybe there’s no one to blame but themselves, says Alvy Singer, the male counterpart of the couple. After all, everything comes down to human nature, doesn’t it? What we experience and how we react to certain situations is based on the nature of our character. This involves how we mingle with the people around us and what we find attractive in them. The more time you spend with someone, the more you notice their flaws. In such an imperfect world, how can we expect to be part of an everlasting romance, if there is nothing to keep us going? As bittersweet and thought-provoking as a film can be, ‘Annie Hall’ assures its place within the hearts of its audience.
1. A Short Film About Love (1988)
What is the difference between the love one has for their mother and the love they have for their partner? The two aren’t exactly similar, but it is not too easy to describe why. In ‘A Short Film About Love’, a young man named Tomek spies on the older woman living in the apartment opposite to his, a practice he has been following for quite some time. He has a few rules that guide his immature peeping, and this involves looking away whenever she makes love with another man. The woman he spies on, a lonely soul named Magda, does not believe in the existence of true love. All the fiddling around and early indications of a budding romance are just steps taken towards the bedroom, and what happens there is, in her words, “all there is to it”. The film shows our characters confronting their own opinions when certain events challenge them, and it never really gives us an answer about how authentic and felt the concept of love is. Maybe it’s a mirage, or a fantasy we play up in our minds with nothing to show for it, but as our characters slowly realize, even this has its own sense of comfort. In the end, what we can say for sure is that humans cannot live without each other, and for now, that’s probably all that matters.