Ah, Valentine’s Day—a day of bliss with our significant other, or a reminder of our crippling loneliness amongst boxes of chocolate and giant teddy bears. The spirit of romance is in the air as a reminder of the day we’ll be spending with the love of our lives, or by ourselves (and it’s perfectly okay to be the love of your own life). You may know by now that I’m not a fan of the typical rom-com—I tend to shy away from romance in fear of anything being a formulaic Nicholas Sparks knockoff. There are, however, some gems I’ve found that we can all enjoy—regardless of what our relationship status. Here are some Netflix romance films with a unique or darkly suspenseful twist.
In an era when big hair and leather jackets ruled fashion, “Heathers” became a cult classic in the 1980s, and is easily the darkest yet funniest film on my list. (Think “Mean Girls” in 1988.) Winona Ryder plays Veronica, an angsty high-schooler who befriends The Heathers, a trio of snobby popular girls all named Heather, each of them vain and dimwitted in their own way. (It is quite evident they inspired “The Plastics.”) A handsome, rebellious boy named J.D. moves to Veronica’s school—the eternally cool Christian Slater—and their relationship flourishes beautifully. That is, until they commit a murder together. Their situation begins to spiral as they cover their tracks, and the blood of the other Heathers begins to flow. It is also unsurprising that their conflicting views on homicide also take a toll on their budding romance. This is clearly not a typical love story, but it’s a gut-wrenchingly funny one that is consistently entertaining and wonderfully deranged. “Heathers” is also a very quotable film, and it may be impossible to keep some 1980s lingo out of your vocabulary for a few days.
- The Overnight
This film took the indie world by storm last year and has been hailed as one of the best sex comedies ever made. Netflix bingers may recognize Taylor Schilling, Piper from “Orange is the New Black,” as one of the film’s protagonists. “The Overnight” is a raunchy and insanely outlandish story about an ordinary couple learning about the erratic sexual tendencies of a not-so-normal couple over the course of one highly unusual night. It is a riot from start to finish, though it may not sit well with viewers who don’t enjoy sex comedies. In the vein of “American Pie,” “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin,” and “Knocked Up,” “The Overnight” brings a new and refreshing look at modern relationships, sex, and the wild things some people get up to in their bedrooms.
- Perfect Sense
I believe “Perfect Sense” is the most romantic and emotionally-charged film on my list, which is another way of saying it is the most depressing and impacting of them all. It takes place in a world where two lovers attempt to maintain communication and show affection as a mysterious epidemic spreads the earth. Unlike most apocalyptic films, however, “Perfect Sense” has a palpable sense of tension and fear that is highly metaphorical. The epidemic is global and inexplicable, causing emotional outbursts and the consequent loss of each of the five senses. For example, the first stage of the epidemic begins with humans experiencing bouts of sadness, followed by the loss of their sense of smell. Susan, an epidemiologist studying the progression of the disease, clings to Michael for support and comfort as the two retain a connection in a deteriorating world where they will soon lose all their senses. The final scene in “Perfect Sense” is a breathtakingly beautiful portrayal of true love, and it is unforgettable.
- Blue is the Warmest Color
Two of my adorations are French cinema and LGBT cinema, so my list would not be complete without a romantic film encompassing the two. That being said, “Blue is the Warmest Color” is a true work of art. At three hours (and worth every second), it tells one of the most compelling and genuine stories about learning to truly love. The film follows 15-year-old Adele as she discovers her sexual preference for girls and finds pure bliss in the enchanting, blue-haired Emma. This is not only a film about first love, but also prejudices, self-discovery, and the emotional turmoil of real relationships. It is artistically gorgeous and filled with dense metaphors. What makes “Blue is the Warmest Color” so heartfelt is its delicate sense of realism and truthfulness. It is a tale of first love and its progression over several years. Adele and Emma’s relationship evolves with beautiful tenderness and loads of sexual passion, a source of the film’s controversy due to its highly explicit sexual scenes. “Blue is the Warmest Color” is a cinematic masterpiece. It is a real, raw, honest portrayal about the complexities of love—its tumultuousness and its beauty.