Rising above the romantic genre clichés filmmakers have now advanced to explore more about love and complicated relationships. Talking about cinema, it has changed a lot over years and will continue to change as we progress. One such thing that has changed with it is the portrayal of love. There was a time when people wanted to see their favourite couples again and again. Also it influenced a major part of pop culture. But all of this has changed now. A romantic movie being made with the essence of 80’s or the 90’s won’t do the same sense of justice to the real world. Now the viewers want to dive deeper into the characters. This has influenced the filmmakers to expand their stories with more realism. These are some of the movies that tried to capture the ‘unconventional’ love.
01. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The Ang Lee directed movie explores the story of two shepherds who develop an emotional and physical relationship. Their relationship becomes complicated when both of them get married to their respective girlfriends. A slow paced film with no over the top dialogues or scenes, expresses with its rawness. What is special about this movie is that it not only touches what the world considers a taboo but also explores it better by building a well-crafted atmosphere around it. Not a movie that would make you jump out of your seats but rather appreciate the warmth of your seats while connecting to the two main characters as they try to justify their feelings. Their feelings are motivated by innocent longings and challenged by the barriers of society. While telling a story of emotional conflict inside them it also tells the story of how people around them get affected. Brokeback Mountain received 8 oscar nominations and won in 3 of them.
02. Her (2013)
A movie set in the future, it is not surprising to see how relationships have lost its authenticity in future. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a writer, he is an introvert and his days pass in gloom after he fails in a relationship. His life changes when he buys an artificial intelligence system and falls in love with it. The more time he spends with it the more he is drawn to it and with it he comes closer to know that his desires have boundaries. Honestly, not many movies have tried to touch the subject which Her wants our attention towards. Her moves beyond machines in the future to the place of humans and relationships in future. It’s how we have ran out of honesty and innocence in our relationships that we have sorted to machines to make us feel emotionally enchanted. The movie impresses visually as it expresses emotionally.
03. Water (2005)
Water shows us the challenges love has to overcome to survive against the society. Water is one of the three movies in the Elements trilogy by Deepa Mehta. Narayan( John Abraham) is a tall, handsome, foreign educated man and Kalyani( Lisa Ray) is a widow who is shackled by the cultural barriers of pre-Independence India. Narayan is drawn towards Kalyani aware of the reality of her situation; Kalyani is ready to accept her fate but is also moved by the charm of Narayan. Mehta constructs a story that is sad and thought provoking about a relationship that is challenged by cultural norms. It draws our attention towards relationships that have to break the barriers to bloom and survive. Also, beautifully filmed, the movie will move you with its visuals. The color white pops out every now and then to remind you about the dark reality.
04. Fire (1996)
Another one from Deepa Mehta’s Elements trilogy Fire received criticism from the public for being too ahead of its time. The film received an adult rating and many theaters also stopped screening. In the times of celibacy two Indian women Sita (Nandita Das) and Radha (Shabana Azmi) form an intimate and passionate relationship. Similar to Water, Fire shows the dark realities of society and how some desires struggle as they get buried under societal pressure. The movie tells us about true love and independence of women against the backdrop of societal norms. The fact that it is set at the times when homosexuality and independence of women seemed a farfetched reality makes it even special. In her own words Deepa Mehta states, “lesbianism is just another aspect of the film..Fire is not a film about lesbians, but rather about the choices we make in life.”
05. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Lars(Ryan Gosling) is a shy guy who finds it hard to socialize. His family is worried for him. One day he announces that he has met a girl on the internet. His family is overjoyed but later find out that this girl is a life-size plastic woman. Lars and the Real Girl give us a story born out of pure innocence. Lars lady is a plastic doll but it makes him feel loved. This is a heart-warming movie that would allow you to connect to the wonderful character of Lars and make you see life through his perspective. Also it would raise questions like what is more appropriate, to get a fake feeling out of a real thing or to get a real feeling out of a fake thing.
06. The Lunchbox (2013)
Two individuals find solace from their troubled lives when their paths cross by fate. An unusual relationship blooms between the two, Ila(Nimrat Kaur) and Saajan Fernandes(Irrfan Khan) when a mistake by a tiffin carrier service results in Ila’s tiffin made for her husband, being delivered to Saajan Fernandes. The Lunchbox tells the dilemmas of people in their mid-lives to continue with their lives even if they don’t feel alive. The two characters are prisoners of their lives and are entangled in their crisis. It feels too late to start over. The lunchbox gives a story of hope among those people to make slow efforts to get over their dilemmas. The Lunchbox was well received not only by Indian audience but by international audience as well. The director Ritesh Batra received the Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director.
07. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
This maybe a live action remake of the Disney classic but its message still stands strong. The movie spreads the message of ‘beauty lies within’ something which is much needed in a world where real love is being taken over by shallow attractions. Though this is a tale of fantasy, Belle and Beast are anagrams of the people we often find today. Only when we look past their skin we see that beyond their flawed appearance people hold good hearts. And at the end of all this, this is what that matters. Though the 1991 version remains the masterpiece, the 2017 one takes it closer to reality with its spectacular visuals while retaining the original essence.
08. Good Dick (2008)
Good Dick is a story about a video store clerk( Jason Ritter) who is attracted to a woman (Marianna Palka) who frequently visits the pornography section of his store. As he tries to connect with her, he learns of her troubled past and forms an unusual relationship. Both of them try to use each other’s company to heal their traumas of past. This movie would provide you a much needed break from the romantic comedies and would provide you with more relatable characters. The low budget of the movie works in disguise to give it a sense of realism. Writer-director Marianna Palka makes the character of the woman customer something you would get drawn into despite of her messiness. As a whole this comes off as a sweet love story.
09. Amélie (2001)
The magic of Amelie is not just limited to French. The character of Amelie is one of the most celebrated ones. Someone you wish was a real life person, Amelie( Audrey Tatou) is a young waitress who is caught up in her imaginative world. Her quest is to spread joy around the world. It is one of those movies which has its own charm and which gifts you a character which would be forever in your memories. Amelie has her own take towards whatever she is introduced to. She has her own sense of judgement to the people around her. This extends to when she starts to realise that she is falling in love. To see Amelie falling in love and develop a sense of longing while all her life she has found pleasure in giving out love is what makes it so heart-warming. The color scheme and the background score of the movie only makes it better.
10. Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002)
This movie is about a bus journey where a Brahmin woman saves an unknown Muslim man’s life amidst riots by pretending to be his wife. This is a satisfying movie which proves that the romantic genre in India is not only about wide shots of lovers dancing on landscapes. This movie explores more about human relationships while also keeping it subtle. A bold move considering it released around 2000’s when Bollywood provided a whole together different taste to the viewers with its romantic movies. The film also offers on the subject of humanity versus evils of communalism.