Valentine’s & the Happy Ever After Ending

Valentine’s & the Happy Ever After Ending

I’m not sure why so many romantic films tend to be released around this time of year, when boyfriends despise them and single girls despise them even more. But festivities of any kind always seem to make Hollywood think it’s a good reason to get a film out and I’m beginning to agree with them.

Blue Valentine

After a quick browse through Google, under the heading ‘this valentines day do something you’ll both love’ is a list of films to watch on the big day; The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), Life As We Know It (2010), The Back-Up Plan (2010) and Going the Distance (2010), among many, many others. My natural reaction to this is to scoff and quickly block the prospect of sickening romantic films and chocolates out of my mind. Instead I have pushed passed this over-reaction, and I am now eager to share my pearls of wisdom.

A few weeks ago I cheerfully criticized the film Love and Other Drugs for producing a disappointingly cliché ending, having decided that these days a filmmaker should know better. Well, not to render my previous review futile, I still didn’t like the film. But I’m not sure I like the new realistic endings that now plague our screens either.

Certified Copy

I recently saw the widely acclaimed ‘love story’, Certified Copy (2010), directed by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. The film claims to blow you away with its uniqueness and new take on relationships. Something of a trend among cynical writers and directors of romantic films across the globe at the moment. Understandably, films about love are very samey these days and a need for an original take is soaring, however I think it’s got to the point where they have simply become depressing and pretentious.

I noticed after having watched Certified Copy that most of the praise came from France, where it was made. Now I don’t want to sound completely pompous, the French have made some incredible and unforgettable films. Even so, I find as receivers of films they tend to be the culprits when perpetrating the emperor’s new editing suite. Certified Copy is an example of this problem. Kiarostami portrays the story of two people disillusioned by the initial bliss of relationships. Yet by the end of the film I had been disillusioned myself and also quite disturbed by the stir among prestigious awarding bodies that the film was able to induce.

Fair enough, the story of an estranged married couple and their reflections on what went wrong were interesting but isn’t that where documentaries come in? To provide us with the grimy details that Hollywood withholds from us. Of course the lines between reality and fiction are blurred across all types of films, and Iranian films are well known for just this. However, Certified Copy was that bit too real and a bit too truthful for my liking.

Sleepless In Seattle

As more films keep working against the cliché happy ever after ending, the more they resemble reality and the more depressing they become. Apologies for being fickle, but this is not something I want anymore. One of the main reasons I watch romantic films is for the escapism, not to have my own problems reflected back on me in dark hues and 16mm film. Another example of the pursuit of reality driving its filmmakers is Blue Valentine (2010), unlike Certified Copy, it manages to lure its audience with a well-written script and appealing characters. However, again the aim is to portray how deluded people are in the midst of young love and how desperately wrong it soon goes once real life kicks in. I did appreciate the film a lot, but I am not the only one to say it’s definitely the most depressing love film ever made.

I’m not advocating only fairy tales and joyous occasions for the rest of time but I miss the glitz and the happy endings in love. There’s a reason why When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and Never Been Kissed (1999) are so popular. When it comes to real life romance, there is never a good answer, never a good reason but in the movies it’s all so easy and that’s what I want. Of course I appreciate films about death, slavery and whatever else but at the end of the day, is it really that bad to ask for a small dose of delusion every now and then?

Leave Your Reply

Required fields are marked *. Your details will never be shared.