Valentine’s Day: to embrace the cliché or not, that is the question. While we love the notion of receiving flowers, chocolates, romantic notes and bougie dinner requests it can sometimes feel a bit much (not to mention bank account draining) to pull out all the stops on February 14th. And, if you’re single (or, self-partnered, as per Emma Watson’s request), this one-day festival of love is just another day on the calendar. A more low-key idea, whatever your situ? Watch a film. You can never go wrong with a film. If you’re still into running with the romantic theme of the day, we’ve curated an alternative Valentine’s Day film guide – featuring cyber love stories to modern-day dating horrors that remind us of the importance of loving thyself.
Watch… Her (available to stream here)
Soundbite… “Falling in love is a crazy thing to do. It's kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.”
Why? Picture this: a man (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). An unsettling concept, perhaps, but six years on and cyber intimacy is becoming more and more part of our lives. Today, we can download AI companions that make it (near) possible to mimic conversations we would have with a friend or romantic partner. (Side note: we trialled one ourselves, Replika, to find out what all the fuss is about). Her will make you rethink romance in a whole new light.
Schmaltz scale? 7/10
Watch… Booksmart (available to stream here)
Soundbite… “It’s fun your mom thinks we're boning."
Why? Whitney Houston is right, learning to love yourself really is the greatest love of all. But sometimes, OK a lot of the time, we just need our fail-safe hype woman to remind us just how fabulous we really are. Et voila - confidence restored. So, if you’re spending Valentine’s Day with Thelma to your Louise, we recommend factoring in this LOL buddy comedy. Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein has earned comparisons with Superbad (it does feature Beanie’s older brother, Jonah Hill), but it’s also so much more than this. Intelligent, heartfelt and raucously funny.
Schmaltz scale? 5/10
Watch… Someone Great (available to stream here)
Soundbite… “Do you think I can have one more kiss? I'll find closure on your lips, and then I'll go.”
Why? Girl meets boy, boy breaks up with girl, girl feels sad, then goes on a weekend bender with her girlfriends. Not the most original of concepts, but still relatable, nonetheless. Also, it’s very funny. This (non-cheesy) rom-com, starring Jane The Virgin’s Gina Rodriquez, is the perfect antidote if you’re still not over ‘the one that got away’ or feeling bruised from a recent break-up and feeling confused. The film’s action occurs over a 24-hour period: starting from the morning after Jenny Young’s (Rodriquez) boyfriend of nine years calls it quits. One for Bridesmaids fans.
Schmaltz scale? 5/10
Watch… Catfish (available to stream here)
Soundbite… “Online, you're providing each other with the good aspects of being together as far as communication and support, but you don't have to deal with the realities of paying bills together, or being annoyed when they leave the toilet seat up or don't put the food away in the fridge.”
Why? The real-life dating thriller, which follows Nev Shulman as he travels to Michigan to meet Megan – a singer-songwriter and artist that he had begun an online relationship with. Famously, all is not what it seems. Ideal for those who are finding navigating Hinge more exhausting than a two-hour session at Barry’s Bootcamp.
Schmaltz scale? 3.5/10
Watch… Ghost (available to stream here)
Soundbite… “I love you, Molly. I've always loved you.”
Why? If it’s unapologetically romantic screen time you’re after – Ghost is the one. The film that birthed the sexiest pottery scene. Of. All. Time.
Schmaltz scale? 10/10
Watch… He’s Just Not That Into You (available to stream here)
Soundbite… “You know the other one I like? ‘I am so jealous of the guy who gets to marry you’ Well, that could have been you. That's what I was leaning towards.”
Why? Want to hear Drew Barrymore’s maddingly on-point monologue on the crimes of modern dating? Reeling after that person with ‘great potential’ - who seemed to offer you the world on a first date - has now suddenly gone AWOL? We’re not crazy about the title, but aside from that it’s still a comfort food film favourite.
Schmaltz scale? 7/10
Watch… Gone Girl (available to stream here)
Soundbite… “I did not kill my wife, I am not a murderer.”
Why? Warning: do not expect a good night’s sleep post-watch. For those who haven’t seen David Fincher's dark and thrilling adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel, it is part horror, part marriage mystery. A* casting (Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris), nail-biting action and deeply unsettling.
Schmaltz scale? 3/10