Romance is a big genre, and there are plenty of reliably great romcoms and love stories to cue up on Netflix for Valentine’s Day. And while I’m always down for “My Best Friend’s Wedding” or “The Notebook” or “Crazy Stupid Love” (it’s Gosling that I do like), there are a few movies about love that are beautiful, real, sexy and sad, and that’s what I crave most when I want to get a love fix in. These are a bit off the standard Valentine’s Day menu, but they’re wonderful and I hope you watch them.
This is James Gandolfini’s last movie and although he may not be sellable as a romantic lead (depending on all of your feelings around Tony Soprano), he truly is lovely and sexy and charming and adorable in this movie. He and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have great and funny chemistry, and it’s a story that feels familiar but hasn’t been told five million times.
“Make Way For Tomorrow” is an old movie about what happens at the end of a love story. About what happens when two people grow old and need help. And about saying goodbye. It’s funny, it’s heart-wrenching, you will cry.
A Finnish film about a working-class couple, “Shadows in Paradise” is a short and sweet story of what happens when a garbage man and a grocery store clerk start to fall in love. Understated, very, very dry, and touching.
You may have caught this one last year when it was up for an Oscar. If you didn’t, please go back and watch. This is a rare historical drama that tells an important story—about an outlawed interracial couple—without losing the meaningful details. This is a simple love story where the villains are racism, the police, and bureaucracy.
There’s a lot of sex in this French movie. And there’s also the incredibly dramatic story of two women deeply in love, and all of the messy stuff that happens when people need each other a little too badly.
I will scream for the rest of my life that this movie is one of the best movies to come out in the last five years. It’s unbelievably fun, funny and sexy, plus it’s feminist as hell. It may be about a bunch of men, but the gaze here is strictly female. Repeat viewings are richly rewarded.