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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

All of the love, none of the romance: 7 movies for Valentine’s Day

Erin Rice | The Observer
Erin Rice | The Observer

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and unless you’re in a committed relationship or have been holding out for a secret admirer, you probably are less than thrilled about the holiday.

Some Valentine’s Day grinches have taken to calling it “Single’s Awareness Day.” Others refuse to acknowledge the Hallmark holiday and its crass-commercialism altogether. A third party, lead by “Parks and Recreation” wonder woman Leslie Knope, have opened the holiday up to more than just romantic couples exchanging chocolates and flowers.

In an episode of the show’s second season, Knope invites friends to celebrate “Galentine’s Day,” a celebration of lady friendship on Feb. 13. That was back in 2010, and in the last five years, there’s been a rise of real-life Galentine’s Day celebrations as well.

In the spirit of Leslie Knope, rather than bombard you with a list of favorite rom-coms or sappy love stories, here are some movie suggestions to help you celebrate the day of love without a significant other — or romance at all.

Whether you’re feeling lonely and would rather not cry over “The Notebook,” shrugging off the holiday (and maybe relationships) altogether or celebrating in your own way, this list is proof that you can watch a love story without the plot of a Taylor Swift song.

“Frances Ha” (2012) — Starring the delightful Greta Gerwig and Mickey Summer, “Frances Ha” follows Frances (Gerwig) as she struggles with adult life in New York City. While the film is undoubtedly a bildungsroman, “Frances Ha” is also a wonderful look at the love between two friends, and Gerwig and Summer are flawless in depicting the ups and downs (and ups again) of friendship.

“50/50” (2011) — While I was tempted to add a bromance movie like “I Love You Man” into the list, the relationship between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan’s characters in “50/50” is so much better. The film is heavy (and sure, it has a little romance too), but Rogan and Levitt together make the film completely worth the watch.

“Auntie Mame” (1958) — If you’re looking a great but platonic movie, look no further than the classic comedy “Auntie Mame.” The tale of a young orphaned boy sent to live with his eccentric aunt, the film looks at the unlikely friendship between the two relatives.

Big Fish” (2003) — Another family-centric film, “Big Fish” is a strange, fantastical tale of a man looking to make amends with his father. Maybe you’re skipping “The Notebook” this year, but if you’re looking for a cry, this one will have you covered.

Lars and the Real Girl” (2007) — Though you could argue this one is a romantic tale, “Lars and the Real Girl” had to make the list for its unconventional love story. (Second place in the unconventional romance category goes to “Harold and Maude.”) Starring Ryan Gosling in one of his weirder roles, “Lars and the Real Girl” follows Gosling’s character as he falls in love with a “Real Doll,” a life-size doll that looks like a woman. The film is beyond bizarre, but is also fantastic and, at times, surprisingly heart-warming.

“Paris, je t’aime” (2006) — Though the rest of these suggestions are love stories between two people (whoever those two people may be), the object of affection in “Paris, je t’aime” is Paris itself. The film is actually a collection of short films by several directors, but the collection itself (and especially the movie’s very last vignette) is one big love letter to the city.

“Cutie and the Boxer” (2013) — If you’re a documentary-head, there are plenty of films about love and passion to explore (from “Man on Wire” to “Eames”), but “Cutie and the Boxer” looks at the lives of husband and wife Ushio and Noriko Shinohara as they discuss both their marriage and their careers as artists.