Roses are red
Violets are blue
If you want to date me
I’m going to stab a needle in your eye
And torture you until you die.
Ok, so maybe that’s not the exact synopsis of Takashi Miike’s memorably unpleasant romcom/horror Audition but it’s close enough. As everyone discovers sooner or later, love isn’t like being Sleepless in Seattle. Unless you’re a late middle-aged action hero, in which case you’re going to be happy enough to be partnered with someone who’s not only much better looking than you, but also someone who’s twenty years younger.
Time and again, films get love wrong in a myriad of ways: a lack of chemistry between two leads; cheesy dialogue; bad sex; cheesy sex. And if they don’t, they’re often so cynical about the whole darned process that you’ll concede defeat with your Match.com membership and instead order a galley of ginger kittens for a lifetime’s companionship. Thanks Blue Valentine.
Whether you’re on a lovey-dovey high or down in the dumps, the Clash film team have collated their favourite romantic film fails and foibles as a special Valentine gift 4 u xxx.
Back To The Future
Marty McFly’s mum thinks he’s hot.
When H.G. Wells popularised the concept of time travel he surely didn’t envisage Marty McFly’s dilemma in Back To The Future. Which is fair enough, for no-one expects to be transported back thirty years only to find yourself the object of your own mum’s lust.
Young Marty dealt with it admirably considering she’d already established, while he was unconscious, that he was wearing Calvin Klein underwear and that young Lorraine looked just as good as his 1985 girlfriend did. All just as well, really, for had he succumbed to temptation, Back To The Future would’ve been slapped with an 18 certificate and thus lost its eternal status as a Saturday afternoon family time-killer. Words: Ben Hopkins
Joe Pesci puts the Wise Guy moves on Sharon Stone.
The world's greatest stories are love stories; yet sadly not all love stories are great. Case in point: in Casino, director Martin Scorsese places a legend of the genre (Joe Pesci) and a Hollywood star (Sharon Stone) into an 'intimate' situation and he – and we – wait expectantly for the romantic magic to spark.
The resulting 90 seconds sees the pair weep and slobber over each other before Pesci invites his ‘desired’ for a bite to eat *ahem* with all the sensitivity / romance of a bullet to the brain. Or a head in a vice. The result? Less '”impassioned tryst” and more “impatient teens”, and even more awkward to watch. Words: Gareth Kolze-Jones
The Doc’s long build-up ends prematurely.
The epitome of romance it ain’t. The “love” scene between Joaquin Phoenix’s lamb-chopped Doc (of indeterminate age) and Katherine Waterston’s super-young Shasta is uncomfortable at best. If there’s ever an argument for the camera inhabiting a male gaze, this is it.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s camera lingers lasciviously on the naked female form, objectifying the girl as she crosses the room and sits beside her former lover. He is – ha, of course! – fully dressed. And at the moment he’s able to resist her nakedness no more, he aggressively mounts her. Still fully clothed. Of course. Creepy and exploitative as a scene, the sex act is over in seconds and you’re left feeling grubby and awkward. Ew. Words: Kim Taylor-Foster
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
A rising international star. And Hayden Christensen.
Forget the Dark Side and the Light, the biggest battle in Star Wars history was Natalie Portman’s struggle to create any kind of chemistry with charisma vacuum Hayden Christensen. With creepy stares, cheesy romance montages and downright peculiar lines about sand, the tragic love story that was meant to be central to the creation of one of the most famous characters in movie history instead became a bad soap storyline.
And that’s all without mentioning the indeterminate age difference between the two. While the story puts them only five years apart, remembering this friendship began with 9-year-old Jake Lloyd remarking “Are you an angel?” is... uncomfortable, to say the least. Words: James Luxford
Taxi Driver and Punch Drunk Love
Like a double-bill of Dinner Date gone very wrong.
Some men don’t know what they are doing when it comes to matters of the heart. Some men resonate with the world on a different frequency, feeling more acutely the savagery of the world and often struggle in the moments requiring the most presence and sensitivity to make the right choices.
Two of cinema’s most tightly coiled springs make terrible first date decisions. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in Taxi Driver takes the ambitious and luminous Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) to see a porno after eventually persuading her to go out with him, claiming it’s what a lot of couples do. Meanwhile, Punch-Drunk Love’s Barry Egan excuses himself from a meal with the sensitive and besotted Lena (Emily Watson) to tear the restaurant bathroom apart and then lie about it to the manager. For Travis, this sets in motion irreversible dangerous consequences but there’s hope for Barry and Lena, maybe. Words: Neil Fox
Up In The Air
George Clooney gets dumped. In your face, George.
George Clooney living the nihilistic single life until he falls for the equally free-spirited Vera Farmiga? The adorable Anna Kendrick convincing Clooney’s character to make the jump from causal dalliance to full commitment? This is Valentine’s Day movie GOLD people! Time to finish up the wine and retire for some swift but enthusiastic lovemaking…
But wait, there’s more, Vera’s character is revealed to have a husband and kids, leaving Clooney’s character to return to his singular existence but with the knowledge that perhaps he isn’t as invulnerable as he originally thought. The way this movie sets you up for romance only to give you the middle finger for the final 15 minutes is a huge Valentine’s Day FAIL. Sort of like thinking you had a good date only to get a “no thank you” when you lean in for the kiss at the end. Cue the tears and my date frantically reminding me that it’s just a movie. Words: Elijah Lawal
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