Are you you feeling a little bitter this Valentine's Day? Gather some friends and celebrate the day in your own special way, with a movie about the heartache of love gone wrong.
The English Patient
If you like your movies big and tragic, then this one's for you. The story is all sophistication, combining romance with political intrigue and gorgeous cinematography. It stars Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliet Binoche, and Willem Dafoe, among others. This is a grown-up's movie: In it, love doesn't last forever, only as long as the lover is alive.
This is a very dark movie. Be sure to see the original Dutch version and not the American remake, which changed the ending to make the film less sad. A young man and his girlfriend stop at a rest area during their road trip. She disappears. He spends years searching for her. Out of nowhere, a man steps forward and offers to show him what happened to her. If you never want to fall in love again, this movie will help you avoid it.
What's Love Got to Do with It?
The movie version of Tina Turner's life. Talented as she is, she's trapped in an abusive relationship with manager/husband Ike Turner (Lawrence Fishburne). Tina (Angela Bassett) only experiences true happiness after she kicks Ike to the curb. Bassett perfectly conveys Tina's true grit and determination.
Raise the Red Lantern
This Chinese movie is one of Zhang Yimou's best films. Set in the 1920s, it tells the story of a 19-year-old girl (Gong Li) who is forced to marry the lord of a powerful family. Since he already has several wives, she enters a world of harsh competition and backstabbing, as well as a loveless marriage.
Romeo and Juliet
For true tragedy, see the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli version (not the 1996 one that's set in Florida). No doubt you already know the story of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers, who are prevented from marrying by a vicious family feud. A very young Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting bring it to life – for a short while at least.
This Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson movie is the flip side of Much Ado About Nothing. There's much ado about plenty here as Branagh plays a private detective who is called in to help out a distraught and amnesiac woman. As he helps her piece her life back together, he finds that they have way more in common that he thought – for instance, a past life that involved murder, prison, and the death penalty.
Gone with the Wind
Long hailed as a romance classic, this 1939 movie is still about as sad as they come. No wonder – all Scarlett gets at the end is a big house and a fistful of dirt. The huge scope and high drama of this Civil War movie still hold up today, and the acting is excellent – especially by Vivien Leigh and Clark "Frankly, my dear" Gable.
The name just says it all. Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson take the title roles in Nora Ephron's autobiographical account of her failed marriage to Carl Bernstein. Streep and Nicholson fall in love and marry, despite her reservations about matrimony. Later, Streep finds out that Nicholson is cheating on her when she's pregnant with their second child.
A good marriage is based on trust, and James Spader's character implictly trusts his enigmatic wife (Mädchen Amick), despite not knowing her family or her past. But then he gets suspicious that she's having an affair, and things start to unravel. By the end of the film, Spader's under a court order to do time in a psychiatric hospital, and he's only just beginning to understand who and what Amick really is.
Frankie and Johnny
Lastly, a movie about hope. Both Frankie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Johnny (Al Pacino) have taken some hard knocks. Pacino's character just got out of jail and Pfeiffer's has sworn off relationships altogether, having escaped a particularly abusive one. They meet at the restaurant where they both work and, despite lots of heartache, manage to work it all out.