Four Films That Will (Probably) Make You Glad About Singlehood5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
This year’s Valentine’s Day will probably be more miserable than usual most for Chinese singles. They will have to run the gauntlet of relatives questioning the lack of a significant other and go through the dreaded made-up holiday alone all in the same weekend.
There is a galaxy of mushy films to bemoan singlehood over. They tend to elevate love to a near-mythical degree. However, cinema also offers a crueller look at romance, charting just how destructive, revolting and plain pointless dating, relationships and marriage can be.
So for all the singles out there, instead of swimming in self-pity this Valentine’s Day, try basking in schadenfreude and relief with these four films that will make you glad about singlehood.
Marriage Story (2019)
Dir. Noah Baumbach
Much like The Neverending Story, Marriage Story is far from what its title would suggest. Starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, the film details the slow disintegration of a marriage and all the hurt that comes with divorce. The couple’s young son and two tenacious divorce lawyers only further complicate their split already filled to the brim with venom.
Perhaps what makes this descent through divorce hell so compelling is with how deeply flawed both parties are. It’s not that their love for each other has expired either. There are attempts at reconciliation but they are often batted away with neither looking to compromise. Adam Driver’s gut-punching performance (you know the scene) will bring into questions the possible impermanence of love, if relationships are even worth it, and if Joaquin Phoenix really should’ve won the Oscar over Driver (the correct answer is no).
Marriage Story is now streaming on Netflix.
Gone Girl (2014)
Dir. David Fincher
The critically-acclaimed film is a dead ringer for such a list. Central to the psychological thriller is the sudden disappearance of Amy (Rosamund Pike) with all indications pointing to murder by the hands of her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck). Describing any more of its plot would give away much of its mystery, with terrifying answers more than capable enough to keep anyone off the dating scene for a while.
More than being a fantastic horror story, Gone Girl is also a tightly-knit exploration of relationships as performance. Both Amy and Nick, much like most couples, fell for the images and ideas each created for themselves. In the film, soon even the national media fell for the ideas each continued to perpetuate and morph. Gone Girl almost plays out like a prime cut of schadenfreude for bitter singles convinced that love, relationships, and dating are all phony.
Gone Girl is available for rental streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Kaatru Veliyidai (2017)
Dir. Mani Ratnam
For more than four decades, Tamil film director and master storyteller Mani Ratnam has brought to life countless memorable characters across his prolific filmography. With Kaatru Veliyidai, he creates an honest portrayal of a dysfunctional relationship and a shockingly believable portrait of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The film follows the flawed, toxic, yet awfully relatable relationship between VC (Karthi) and Leela Abraham (Aditi Rao Hydari).
Through these two leads, Kaatru Veliyidai superbly details how love tend to be both blind and blinding. As we put it in our psychoanalysis of VC, the success of the film comes from allowing VC and Leela to make their mistakes. The film doubles as a cautionary tale and a mirror to identify our flaws that would be vital to solving before being involved in any relationship.
Kaatru Veliyidai is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
5 Centimeters per Second (2007)
Dir. Makoto Shinkai
Recently broke up and crave for a horror film? While romance films can scare you out of relationships for showcasing the ugly side of love, the genre can sometimes do the same by being devastatingly heartbreaking. Told across three time periods, the gorgeously crafted 5 Centimeters per Second details the initial sparks and the subsequent fall out of a short-lived romance.
The film’s main message of accepting the beauty of impermanence is delivered in such a heartrending way that it feels like having to walk through a bed of (beautifully animated) scorching coal. For those still dealing with a recent breakup, 5 Centimeters per Second is both the best and worst film to experience given its poignant and sundering perspective of love lost.
Check out our analysis of the film’s theme song here.
5 Centimeters per Second is now streaming on Netflix.