Get out of here with your happy, sad, indifferent takes. These are the moods that matter on V-Day.
A longstanding myth about Valentine’s Day is that everyone feels differently about it: happy, sad, indifferent, what have you. This is false. There are, in actuality, only five emotions anyone, once they stop lying to themselves, feels on V-Day, and I’m here in my capacity as a cinephile, expert on matters of the heart, and American patriot to recommend the perfect movie to fit each of these five moods, which are the only actual moods anyone feels on this most 14th of all February days. Without further ado, your list:
When Straight People Won’t Stop Fucking With You: Carol
Carol has the advantage of being the best American movie in at least a decade, nullifying the holiday compromise of watching something that sucks out of obligation, so watching it on Valentine’s Day automatically means you win. But it also taps into one of the universal truths that all reasonable people face every day of their lives, which is that straight people just will not stop fucking with you and trying to harsh your trip. All Therese and Carol wanted to do was wear spectacular hats, eat creamed spinach, and bang. And if it wasn’t for those meddling heteros, they woulda got away with it. Straight people: the indefatigable Scooby-Doo villains of human existence. Anyway, watch Carol.
When You Think You’re Over Your Ex But You’re Not And The World Is Ending: Children of Men
We’ve all been there: you’re a good leftist, married to Julianne Moore, it’s the future, everything owns. Then one day, tragedy strikes, you’re no longer a good leftist, you’re not married to Julianne Moore anymore, it’s the dystopian future, everything sucks. The obvious solution is to start drinking and stop giving a fuck. That works for a while. But every so often the truth peeks through. And it really doesn’t help when Julianne Moore reappears out of nowhere and enlists you to accompany the first pregnant woman in 18 years to a boat in the English Channel. You really need to keep your mind on the latter. But the former just won’t go away. I’m sure other stuff happens in Children of Men but obviously the important part is the universal – borderline cliche – iteration of the one romantic truism in life: you never really get over Julianne Moore. Valentine’s Day may not be the healthiest time to wallow, but if you can stand confronting your romantic past, watch Children of Men.
When You Think She’s Gone For Good But She’s Not So You Take Your Clothes Off: Slap Shot
I know these are all obvious because literally everyone has these things happen all the time, but bear with me. We’ve all been minor league hockey players at some point, married to our bored, bitter, drunk college sweetheart, having to deal with Paul Newman negging us all fucking day even though we’re better than him at hockey. This goes without saying. But it all works out in the end. The wife chills out (she has to fuck Paul Newman first, but fucking Paul Newman isn’t cheating, and in any case the ends justify the means here) and comes to your hockey game. And, there’s only one thing to do: a striptease, on ice skates. That’s love. Salute to Slap Shot, a perfect Valentine’s Day movie.
When You Can’t Remember Whether It Was Marienbad Or Frederiksberg: Last Year at Marienbad
The biggest romantic cliche of all is, without doubt, the temporally ambiguous, circularly repetitious black & white widescreen inquiry into the unreliability of memory. But cliches are cliches for a reason, so – and I’m fully aware of how trite a pick this is – think about giving Last Year at Marienbad another V-Day spin. Resnais and Robbe-Grillet are the authors of true romance, and Delphine Seyrig its avatar. Be traditional.
When Your True Love Gets Murdered And You Die Trying To Save Her But Then You’re Reincarnated And There She Is Again: Om Shanti Om
Again, yes. Who needs to see their everyday life reflected back at them from the movie screen. I know. You might as well watch a movie about tying your shoes. But Om Shanti Om is wonderful. And – the humorous tone of the above, almost certainly a deflection of some sort, aside – it actually is an all-time great romance, starring Shah Rukh Khan, who might be the best in the entire history of cinema at playing being in love. He falls hard, sometimes tragically, but his characters fall in love in totality. You could do worse, if you’re doing the whole sincerity thing, than an SRK marathon on Valentine’s Day, even though you might only get through two or three movies in a day, because the old ones are all over three hours long.
Be happy. Eat chocolate. Enjoy your Tuesday.