For when you're tired of watching the same old boy-meets-girl romantic comedy.
One of the movies on this list (described as a dark romantic comedy) is about a psychiatric patient who was recently released from the hospital and kidnaps a famous actress with whom he’s obsessed with. He says he’s in love with her and that they’re destined to be together. At first, the woman is furious that he dared to kidnap her, and she’s honestly scared that he’s going to kill her, so she does everything in her power to escape. However, after a series of funny yet disturbing events, she ends up falling for her kidnapper, to the point that she even helps him hide her from her loved ones, so that they don’t suspect anything and come in the way of their “relationship.”
This is the premise behind Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, a Pedro Almodóvar film starring Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril. As a viewer, you become invested in the love story and the lives of the characters, but you don’t feel comfortable rooting for them because it’s a textbook example of Stockholm syndrome. However, that discomfort is exactly what makes the movie so entertaining and fun to watch. If stories about unusual relationships and couples that make you feel uncomfortable are your thing, here are seven movies you can’t miss.
Still from Adore
Phantom Thread (2017)
Paul Thomas Anderson wrote and directed this drama about a renowned couture designer in 1950s London who brings a young and beautiful waitress into his life as his muse. He is, like many creative geniuses before him, extremely demanding and emotionally inaccessible, so their relationship quickly becomes a dangerous power dynamic. However, what makes this movie stand out from other stories where an older man takes advantage of a younger woman’s innocence is the fact that the muse/assistant doesn’t seem to have a problem with their abusive arrangement.
In the not-so-distant future, a woman loses the man who she believes is the love of her life in an accident. She is so certain that she needs him that she decides to have him cloned. But where this story gets even creepier is when we learn that she will carry this clone in her womb, give birth to him, and raise him as her own son, so he can become her lover (again?) when he grows up.
The Lover (1992)
Based on a novel by Marguerite Duras, this erotic classic follows the story of a teenage girl who experiences her sexual awakening in 1920s Indochina. What makes this movie so controversial and uncomfortable is the girl’s affair with an older Chinese businessman. She doesn’t seem to have a problem with it and looks rather happy, but she is still a teenager, which makes the issue very complicated for viewers.
Large age gaps in a relationship don’t have to be problematic, but in this movie, it’s one of many factors that make things uncomfortable… Adore tells the story of two middle-aged childhood friends (played by Naomi Watts and Robin Wright Penn) who live next to each other with their 18-year-old sons and spend most of their time together. Everything is going fine, until one day both women end up having sex with each other’s sons.
Danish director Lars von Trier is known for making audiences squirm, but this movie is one of his disturbing stories yet. It follows the life of a couple who lose their baby in an accident and decide to stay in a secluded cabin as they mourn their loss. However, things go south when both of them recur to violent and destructive behaviors to deal with the pain.
Tom at the Farm (2015)
Filmmaking prodigy Xavier Dolan wrote and directed this thriller about a man who travels to a remote farm in the countryside to attend the funeral of his boyfriend. When he gets there, he discovers that the family didn’t know their son was gay, so he decides to lie about who he is. However, his late boyfriend’s brother won’t let things go that easily and traps him in a dangerous yet exciting relationship that makes viewers feel conflicted.
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990)
Going back to the first movie we talked about, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is a great example of how a movie doesn’t have to be dramatic or scary for it to explore the many layers of complicated relationships. Whether you end up rooting for the couple or begging for the movie to end, this is one story that you won’t forget in a long time.
Some of these movies will make even the most experienced and serious film lovers uncomfortable, but that’s what makes them so great and worth watching.