You can't ask John Waters about filmmaking without getting an answer that's a little bit cuckoo bananas. BFI recently sat down with the Pope of Trash himself and asked him about his favorite films about love and romance, and the Pink Flamingos director named 4 films that are not so much love stories, rather stories about the very human struggle to express and accept love successfully.
Waters mentions The Story of Adele H, The Deep Blue Sea, All That Heaven Allows, and his favorite, Boom,, which all kind of have that melodramatic style that he tends to gravitate towards. (There was an entire Simpsons episode dedicated to Waters' affinity for kitsch.) Everyone has their own taste in movies about love, and I certainly have mine.
Being a bit of a realist, though a deeply closeted romantic, I tend to relate to these types of films that speak openly and honestly about relationships between two (or more?) severely damaged and broken individuals -- some that come to mind are Blue Valentine, A Woman Under the Influence, and Annie Hall.
'A Woman Under the Influence' (Cassavetes, 1974)
Blue Valentine is heart-wrenching, especially if you know the lingering, repetitious pain of divorce. A Woman Under the Influence is difficult to watch if you've ever loved someone who was mentally unstable. Annie Hall, though more lighthearted than the previous two, reflects almost everyone's experience with watching the punch-drunk love in a relationship slowly become an uncomfortable, sober distance. These films tackle issues that we experience every day in our relationships without a whole lot of the glitz and glamor of Hollywood.
In fact, one film that addresses this head-on is Breathless. Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 film has a lot to say about a lot of things, but one theme that stays strong throughout the whole film is Hollywood idolatry. Its protagonist, Michel, idolizes Hollywood heartthrob Humphrey Bogart, even going as far as falling in love with an American woman, Patricia. The connection here is that Breathless has all of the components needed to be turned into a classic love story with a happy ending, but instead it ends with Michel being gunned down in the street by police (in an overdramatic long shot no less) as Patricia follows after him. It's Hollywood, but not. It's romantic, but not. It's real, but not.
Even though my taste in love stories differs from that of Waters', we agree on one thing: failed love stories are many times the best stories.
What are your favorite romance films? What about them works for you? Let us know in the comments below.