10. Love (Gaspar Noe, 2015)
Marking the end of a five year hiatus which began after his release of Enter the Void, Gaspar Noe’s romantic drama depicts love as dynamic, consuming, and ultimately volatile. Love utilizes unsimulated sex scenes, and unscripted dialogue to capture the fluid emotional transitions between the highs and lows of romantic relationships. Murphy and Electra are quickly consumed by their love for each other, constantly seeking ways to maximize their pleasure and reach new highs in their relationship. Their romance begins to deteriorate when they are confronted by the consequences of their frenzied approach to love.
9. Trouble Every Day (Claire Denise, 2001)
Written and Directed by French Filmmaker Claire Denise, Trouble Every Day is both extremely sensual and ultra-violent. Offering a unique take on the “vampire film,” Denise portrays the expression of love as analogous to the expression of hate, both stemming from the drive to dominate and consume. Dr. Shane Brown and June are a newly married couple on a honeymoon in Paris. When Shane begins to slip away for hours at a time under the pretense of meeting with clients, it becomes apparent that he has ulterior motives for visiting France.
8. Two For the Road (Stanley Donen, 1967)
Directed by Stanley Donen, Two For the Road follows a married couple as they examine their 12 year relationship while on a road trip to Southern France. Donen depicts love as a dynamic emotion which can be ignited in an instant, but can fade over time. Two for the Road explores the highs and lows of romantic relationships. The fire of love is quickly ignited, but cannot burn for long without attention and effort. The intimacy of traveling as a pair arouses feeling of affection between Joanna and Mark, and the two find themselves deeply in love. Their relationship begins to suffer as they lose focus on maintaining intimacy, becoming distracted with other aspects of life. Donen reveals that people do not fall in love and live happily ever after without commitment and effort.
7. Blue is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)
Written, directed, and produced by Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Color won the 2013 Palm d’Or. The film is a coming of age tale that examines the dynamic nature of love and sexuality. Kechiche depicts love as opportunistic and transitional, suggesting that romantic relationships can only be as stable as the personalities involved. Kechiche portrays romantic love as active and unstable, only as secure as the people involved. Adele is very young, only beginning to understand her sexuality. She is not yet aware of what she wants or what she needs in a relationship. As the two grow older and their relationship progresses, incompatibilities become apparent.
6. Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)
Winner of the Palm d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, Paris, Texas depicts the life of man who is unable recover from love loss. Wim Wenders explores the damage that can be done to a person at the hands of a loved one. Paris, Texas challenges the ideas of love as static and inherently good. Travis and his wife were once inseparable, but the dissolution of their relationship left him so broken that he went missing for 4 years, wondering aimlessly. Travis and Jane are never really able to rectify their relationship, and Travis will never be the same because of it.
5. Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
Written and directed by independent film pioneer John Cassavetes, Woman Under the Influence portrays romantic love as messy and exhausting, involving intensely contradicting emotions of desire and repulsion. Cassavetes challenges the notion of love as perfectly romantic and without conflict or pain. Cassavetes reveals that love is a messy combination of contradictory emotions. Love is so dynamic that one’s emotions regarding romantic partners can drastically change from one minute to the next. We can cherish our partners, then and despise them in an instant.
4. Amour (Micheal Haneke, 2012)
Winner of the 2012 Cannes Palm d’Or and an Academy Award for best foreign language film, Amour depicts the dangers of co-dependence involved with romantic relationships. Michael Haneke reveals peoples vulnerability to suffering when their life is inextricably bound to another’s by love. Haneke confronts the audience with the inherent vulnerability involved in being in love. The bond of a strong romantic relationship leaves ones happiness at the mercy of the others.
3. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, 2013)
The third installment of a trilogy chronicling the development of an intimate relationship between two strangers who meet on a train, Before Midnight challenges the idea of certainty in regards to romantic relationships. Richard Linklater portrays romantic love as filled with doubt, revealing the fear, regret, and self-sacrifice inherent in such a commitment. Richard Linklater confronts the audience with the fact that there is no certainty with regards to romantic love. We cannot be sure of our feelings, are choices, and our ability to maintain our commitment. Both Jesse and Celine have sacrificed a lot for their relationship. Jesse has lost a wife and his relationship with his son.
2. Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, 2010)
Written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, Blue Valentine tells the story of Dean and Cindy, two long time sweat-hearts whose marriage has begun to deteriorate. Cianfrance depicts romantic love as dynamic and vulnerable to change. Blue Valentine explores the vulnerable nature of romantic love and questions the notion of love as static. Dean becomes complacent, and takes Cindy’s love for granted, unaware that his charming deeds of the past alone are not enough to preserve their relationship. No matter how deeply romantic partners care for and love one another, things can change for the worse. Love must be nurtured; otherwise it can end just as quickly as it began.
1. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
Based on the Novella Dream Story by Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler, Eyes Wide Shut was Stanley Kubrick’s final work before his untimely death. The film follows Bill Harford on his sexually charged adventure into New York’s underbelly. Eyes Wide Shut warns of the dangers in allowing oneself to become complacent with one’s romantic relationships. Kubrick proposes that romantic love is influenced by primal drives and impulses, as well societal constructs, both of which must be acknowledged and accepted.