You might be the hardest cynic in the world when it comes to love, but I bet you won't be able to resist watching these films.
Love is a universal emotion that everybody experiences in different and diverse ways. So, why do we stick with only one particular type of representation? There are several industries that produce films all over the world but, without a doubt, it’s Hollywood the one that’s basically consumed all over the world. It's no surprise that a lot of our understanding of emotions and relationships comes from films and television, but regardless of how much we’ve evolved, it would seem that mainstream art is still obsessed with depicting unrealistic and romanticized ideas of love that end up giving us unrealistic expectations, or turning us into complete cynics who can’t believe in love With that in mind, I decided to make a short list of ten films from all over the world to see if that ingrained perspective on love remains throughout an international audience or if there’s a difference how they tackle that diversity.
A Very Long Engagement (2004) Dir. Jean Pierre Jeunet
Set in the early twentieth century, this French movie tells the story of Mathilde and Manech a young couple who experience an intense love they plan to share for the rest of their lives. However, their plans of marriage are interrupted with the outbreak of WWI and Manech is forced to join the war. So far it would seem as the classic love story that has to face an obstacle, however, what’s interesting about the film is the portrayal of Mathilde (played by Audrey Tautou) and her resilient and sometimes obsessive attitude refusing to lose hope on love no matter how hard the situation gets. Besides that, the narrative of the film resembling those of the detective genre mixed with the amazing visual aesthetic that we loved in Amélie, make of this movie a modern romantic classic.
Kiss Me (2011) Dir. Alexandra-Therese Keining
One thing that’s certain about love is that it appears in the least expected moment and time as this Swedish production proves. After announcing her engagement to her boyfriend at her father’s birthday, Mia agrees to go on a trip with her future stepsister. Having to share a room with her, she can’t but feel an intense attraction for this free-spirited woman whose motto is to live life to the fullest, something she herself has been lacking. As they become closer and closer they succumb to their desire and end up sharing an intense and passionate love. However, it’s not as simple as it might seem, since no matter how much Mia loves Frida, at the end of the day she can’t help thinking that she has a commitment she has to fulfill. Definitely a story that depicts modern love with all its variants and shades, even exposing our social and outdated views on sexual diversity.
Medianeras (Sidewalls) (2011) Dir. Gustavo Taretto
What if the love of your life was right next to you and you couldn’t notice because of the literal and imaginary walls you’ve lifted? This is the story of Martin and Mariana, two young people who after having terrible relationship experiences, and whose lives seem to be in a dark hole, are trying really hard to move on and experience life. The thesis of the movie is based on the popular books of Finding Waldo. If finding a person we know in a crowded scenario is terribly hard, how are we supposed to find a person we don’t even know? Taking the crowded city of Buenos Aires as the scenario, both Martin and Mariana will have to work hard and break their emotional and damaged barriers to find what they’ve been longing for.
Amour (2012) Dir. Michael Haneke
This is one of those foreign movies that trespassed all language and regional boundaries and took the hearts of people all over the world besides getting many different important international awards. This is the story of Anne and George, a married couple in their eighties and the obstacles life puts to their relationship when Anne is left paralyzed on her right side after a failed surgery. Georges, who loves his wife promises he won’t take her back to the hospital again and will take care of her until the end. Yet her health worsens as his energy proves to be inefficient to take up to the task. This is a really heartbreaking and yet realistic story of what happens when your body doesn’t really match your emotional energy and the decisions one has to take when it comes to the overall wellness of the person we love.
Omar (2013) Dir. Hany Abu-Assad
What happens when the political and social crisis your country lives in meddles in your love happiness? This Palestinian movie explores the story of hundreds in the border between Palestine and Israel through Omar, a young man who’s willing to sacrifice his life just to be with the woman he loves. In order to see her, he has to slip past a military security check and climb a tall wall. One day he’s caught and beaten by Israeli soldiers something that marks him and makes him want to take revenge for the humiliation. Assisted by his friends Tarek and Amjad, they end up killing one of the soldiers and Omar is arrested for the crime. In prison, he’s forced to make a deal to work as a double agent, and he agrees only because he wants to protect his girlfriend’s brother and to be close to her. Not to spoil that much, what I’ll say is that this is a very touching story that shows the many faces and realities of a conflict and how it puts on hold the lives and dreams of so many people.
We all experience love in our lives, but our cultural and personal background plays a very important role in our understanding and experience of this emotion. Cinema is one of those platforms where we can actually get acquainted with this wonderful diversity that at the end of the day, only shows a small fraction of the many realities human beings experience throughout their lives. Yes, most of Hollywood’s romcoms and stories can make us feel that love doesn’t really exist, but watching at these diverse stories, only proves that love is way much more than a Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey comedy.
Here are other film lists you should watch this weekend: