Hollywood’s Ten Best Contemporary Off-Beat Romantic Movies — I

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many movie lovers’ attention turns towards romantic movies. However, if you type “best romantic movies” into your search engine, you can not only generate countless number of titles, but also see the same movies racing up for top position: “When Harry Met Sally”, “The Princess Bride”, “Titanic”, “Notebook” are definitely great films about love and popular enough to be checked out by most. So, here is a alternative list of ten movies, which are not based upon any ranks. The selected flicks are all strikingly unconventional and the “contemporary” refers to films that released after 2000. If you are sick of watching sappy sweet tales of the perfect girl who seems to be dating the perfect guy, then these ten romantic wallops are for you.


 “Before” Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013)


Richard Linklater’s witty and wonderful “Before” Trilogy – “Before Sunrise”, “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight” – was hailed by critics and audiences mainly for its most honest and natural approach to the subject of love. The story tracks the love lives of American traveler Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French student/activist Celine (Julie Delpy), whom first meet in a train bound for Vienna. Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl – that’s the simplest way to explain the plot of this trilogy, but this is a rare romantic movie, which showed love in a down-to-earth manner and hinted that love, at times, could be messy. The three films are restricted by a time constraint. We only witness, 36 hrs (51/2 running time in total) of their lives, but we come through, in the end, feeling like we really know these characters.

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)


Adam Sandler stars as Barry Egan, an eccentric small-time businessman. He falls in love with a shy, secretive girl, Lena Leonard (Emily Watson). Of course, their path to love is strewn with obstacles. P.T. Anderson, best known for “There will be Blood”, “Master”, takes some unexpected angels to see through romance. The plot again is very simple, but he conveys the grandness of romance and shows how love is the only great equalizer that can calm us of our daily ills and bring out joys in our lives. We might feel a little punch-drunk ourselves, because it wisely combines our modern day chaotic lives with harmony of love. The end result is an off-beat, but refreshingly vigorous romantic movie.


Garden State (2004)


The whip-smart romantic comedy “Garden State” marked the directorial debut of ‘Scrubs’ fame Zach Braff. Inspired by “The Graduate”, this merrily off-beat tale shows a young actor and aimless everyman, Andrew Largeman returning to his New Jersey hometown for his mother’s funeral. He gets reunited with friends, especially with his doe-eyed pal Samantha (Natalie Portman), which begins a special relationship. Apart from being branded as ‘romantic comedy’, this movie is about remembering what we were like before we ‘got busy.’ It tracks the years of estrangement and balances it with hilarity and heart-breaking sequences. The interactions between Andrew and Samantha are all a treasure – as intimate and real.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)


This provocative, intelligent romance film is blessed with a mind-bending script by Charlie Kuafman and impressionistic, expressionistic visuals of director Michael Gondry. The story suggests a novel way to dump a lover: to literally erase all his memory. Jim Carrey’s shy Joel Barish meets Winslet’s free-spirited Clementine. When their relationship gets rocky, she goes through Lacuna Inc. and wipes off his memory. An angry Joel has haunting second thoughts, when he undergoes the same memory-wiping procedure. “Eternal Sunshine” is a romantic, sci-fi puzzle, but the intentions here are not to create something that could be solved. It just wants us to get reveled in the metaphysical journey and asks ourselves, some big questions about life and love and fate. It’s a love story about love’s irresistible imperfections.


The Fountain (2006)


Darren Aronofsky’s visually enthralling romantic story is always seen as a muddled treatise on New Age love. Booed and ignored in many film festivals, “Fountain”, has since then gained many fans because it’s a sort of imperfect tale that is destined to grow on you the more you think about it. The story takes place in three time periods: A present day doctor works on a cure for cancer that is killing his wife; A 15th century explorer searches for Tree of Life for his Queen Isabel; A futuristic man speeds across cosmos in a bubble and tries to regenerate the Tree in a star. We can’t definitely fully understand this beautifully shot movie, but it unmistakably portrays how love is cheated by death and death by love. This gentle meditation on love has a Zen philosophy at its heart and is very un-Hollywood.

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  • “Before” trilogy indeed tops the list.
    Thanks for the great share! 🙂