This Valentine's Day, you could stick with something traditional. You could check out that rom-com you and your partner have been meaning to check out. You could watch The Notebook and try very hard not to cry. You have your fair share of standard, go-to romantic options and there's nothing wrong with that.
Or you could try something a little different. How about a romantic movie that finds time for gunfights? Or films that find intimacy and tenderness through perverse comedy? Or even something that will let you and your partner live vicariously through another couple as they solve mysteries as a duo? Yeah, you have additional options for sure.
The title of Tony Scott's True Romance initially reads like it's going to be ironic. However, the relationship between Christian Slater's small-time crook Clarence and Patricia Arquette's former hooker Alabama is about as sweet as they come. Here are two movie characters who are head-over-heels in love with each other and it doesn't feel fake or forced or even bittersweet.
This is Bonnie and Clyde with a happy ending and less erectile dysfunction, a good-natured romance about the perfect couple that also happens to feature violent executions and gun battles. If you want a little blood 'n guts in your rom-com, you really cannot do better than this.
The Thin Man
The high society couple who solve mysteries when they aren't drinking an astonishing amount of booze and trading loving witticisms has become a cliche, a source of easy comedy. But Nick and Nora Charles invented this template and their relationship anchors The Thin Man and its many sequels, with stars William Powell and Myrna Loy showcasing a chemistry that countless other onscreen couples can't even come close to touching.
You come for the mystery, but you stay for the couple solving that mystery as they remain as supportive and in love and as accepting of one another across seven movies.
Adam Sandler has never been pushed quite like how Paul Thomas Anderson pushes him in Punch-Drunk Love, which finds him turning his angry man-child persona inside out for a thorough self-examination. But the film is about more than Sandler showcasing some serious chops. It's about how his Barry Egan finds the woman of his dreams in Emily Watson's Lena Leonard and how these two eccentric oddballs complete each other in such specific ways.
A scene where they playfully threaten each other with bodily harm while lying in bed feels like it was torn straight from reality, reflecting how real couples cut loose and abandon their good graces when they're alone and in love. "I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine," Sandler growls at his nemesis during the film's climax. And it's true.
Relationships are hard work and the love of a special person can change someone else for the better. While Harold Ramis' Groundhog Day is about so much more than the love story between Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, the film hits its fair share of emotional truths. Watching Murray's Phil re-live the same day over and over again as part of an unexplained time loop is funny and then sad and then funny again before ultimately becoming emotionally satisfying on a spiritual level.
Watching him work to better himself, to become a man worthy of Rita's time and attention, is genuinely romantic, especially since Murray often plays characters who work so hard to sidestep affection at all times.
Michael Curtiz' Casablanca doesn't feature a single cliche because it single-handedly invented all of the cliches. This is one of the most romantic movies of all time, a timeless masterpiece that still feels so fresh and moving over 70 years after it premiered, but history often misremembers why it is so powerful.
This is one of cinema's great romances because not because Humphrey Bogart's Rick and Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa get together (because they don't), but because it showcases how two people recognize their love for one another and willingly choose to set it aside for the sake of a greater cause. There is no love more powerful than that. Sad, yes. Deeply, achingly romantic, hell yes.