Submitted by Admin on Wed, 02/05/2014 - 15:28

As much as I might love a saccharine, completely idealized and utopic love story from time to time ("You've Got Mail" comes to mind at the moment), when making this list, I wanted to go a little deeper.

Love stories without a melancholic undercurrent or, say, a true sense that collapse is imminent lack any sense of realism. So in that spirit, I give you a few recommendations which you may not have seen yet.

1. "Once": Now a Broadway musical (which I choose not to see only because of how deeply enamored I am with the film), this Irish independent drama starring musicians Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová features a few of the most touching and delicate live performances on film, all of which are woven into the quiet relationship which develops between a Czech immigrant and a Dublin busker.

2. "Perfect Sense": A somewhat surprisingly unrecognized film starring A-list stars Ewan McGregor and Eva Green and directed by Scottish filmmaker David Mackenzie, this dystopic film depicts what might happen when all of us slowly start losing our five senses, one by one, due to a virus. Told largely via a microcosm of a high-end restaurant at which McGregor is the chef, "Perfect Sense" portrays a hopeful view of humans in joy and community, finding ways in which to come together in love, even amidst the most debilitating of circumstances.

3. "Her": Still in theaters and one of the critics' (this one included) favorites of 2013, Spike Jonze's first film in which he is both director and screenwriter stars Joaquin Phoenix who, in the not-too-distant future, has started a relationship with his computer's operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). In many ways the logical conclusion of where Apple's Siri might be taken, "Her" radically reconceptualizes what is and possibly should be prioritized in a relationship and how connections in an increasingly digital world can still be made, in a myriad of surprising and exciting ways.

4. "Intolerable Cruelty": To throw in one comedy, albeit a darkly comic one, I've included this 2003 film by the Coen Brothers, starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Clooney as a cunning divorce attorney famous for his pre-nups challenges Zeta-Jones' manipulations of marrying a string of men for their money. The story spirals delightfully into the realms of the surreal, as you would expect from the Coen Brothers, and features a supporting cast that is sure to have you both chuckling and bewildered.

5. "Amour": Translated as "Love" from French, Michael Haneke's 2012 award winning film presents an unadorned depiction of just what that concept can mean. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, two aged titans of French cinema, deliver stellar performances as a husband and wife, the latter being cared for by her spouse after suddenly suffering a stroke one morning at the breakfast table. Though difficult to watch at times (though not as much as Haneke's other films, all of which are also worth seeing) because of its firm resistance to any form of sentimentality, "Amour" is perhaps the most honest film about love released in recent memory.

BY: Charles Shafaieh