There’s nothing wrong with sitting down to watch a good, old-fashioned rom-com every now and then, or the occasional romantic drama sob-fest. Life is hard, and love is even harder, so no one’s judging you for wanting to watch a nice love story with a happy ending after getting home from a long day at work.
Still, sometimes there comes a point where you just can’t handle another movie about boy-meets-girl, where everyone looks perfect all the time, and everything works out in the end. In these cases, you still need to satisfy your love-story craving, but you also want a good, healthy dose of reality, and that’s where documentaries about real-life love stories come in.
The following is a list of documentary films that follow the lives of real couples with stories that are just as dramatic and swoon-worthy as anything you’ll find in Netflix’s romance category. So, if you’re really into well-made, personal documentaries, and also a grand, epic love story, you’re in for a treat.
The Loving Story (2011)
If you watch any of the films on this list, make it this one. The Loving Story is about an interracial couple living in Virginia in the 1950s who get married in D.C. as a way of circumventing the law against interracial marriage in their state. Soon after their wedding, they get arrested, and the documentary tells the story of the trouble that ensued.
Cutie and the Boxer (2013)
This heartwarming documentary tells the story of a couple of elderly Japanese artists who have been married and making art together for over 40 years. The film excels at capturing both subject’s individual quirks and eccentricities, but also sheds light on their lifelong relationship and the dynamics involved in sharing your life with someone for so long.
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017)
Technically, this documentary is about the life of Joan Didion, the iconic writer who captured American life in the 60s. However, as the documentary follows her story, it also portrays her relationship with her husband, the late John Gregory Dunne, who was also a writer. Their relationship, as we learn, was as passionate as it was intellectually charged, and it’s fascinating to hear Didion herself reflect about what it was like to spend her life with him.
Kurt & Courtney (1998)
Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s relationship is not exactly what comes to mind when you hear “real-life love stories,” since they were one of the most notorious couples in pop culture history. Still, beyond the legend and the celebrity factor, Kurt and Courtney had a very real love story, and this documentary does a remarkable job at putting the pieces of this story together and portraying their love as it really was.
Crazy Love (2007)
There’s a big chance that you haven’t heard about this jaw-dropping documentary before, so I’m not going to spoil it for you by giving up too many details. All you need to know is that Crazy Love is exactly what the title suggests: a story about a man who becomes obsessed with his girlfriend and does the unthinkable to keep her in his life.
Only The Young (2012)
“Everything that goes into your life never comes out. Just like me.” This intimate, teen indie gem follows the lives of three teenagers in Southern California, as they learn about friendship, love, and growing up. It’s not a big, glamorous, Hollywood love story, but it definitely looks like the kind of first love we all experienced at that age.
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (2019)
The most recent addition to this list is about the relationship between the late great Leonard Cohen and his muse and lover Marianne Ihlen. Theirs was the typical dynamic of artistic-genius-who-won’t-commit and long-suffering-girlfriend, but the documentary is made so well, that it manages to get at the core of their tempestuous relationship and what it was that made their love immortal.
Cover picture @dollparts.c
15 Movies Every Film Buff Should Know, According To The BFI
6 Thought-Provoking Documentaries You Can Watch On Netflix Today
7 Documentaries That Will Teach You Everything You Need To Know About Porn