No matter the day, settling in for a romantic movie with a loved one is a great way to spend an evening. Sometimes, however, traditional romance movies are stale; you want something different.
For those looking for that something different, here are 15 movies that will change your perspective on romance forever.
1 – Secretary (2002)
Several commenters in the thread agreed that Secretary fit the bill. The film centers on a young woman who enters a dom/sub relationship with the lawyer she works for as a (who could have foreseen?) secretary. It’s a movie that has an incredibly sweet center under its several scenes of bondage and kinky play, one user even called it “a classic.”
2 – Juno (2007)
Just because a movie is widely recognized as great, or even Oscar-winning, doesn’t mean that it’s a standard romantic movie. Juno is a comedy and includes an affecting romance between the titular Juno (Elliot Page) and her crush Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). But the fact that it’s also a movie about Juno navigating teen pregnancy and begins with the pair sleeping together (leading to said pregnancy) before they ever get together as a couple makes it decidedly “non-traditional, and as the user who recommended it said “unique.”
3 – Phantom Thread (2017)
Several respondents suggested Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread as an example of a “non-traditional” movie about love, and I couldn’t agree more. The film, which tracks the development of a relationship between a renowned dressmaker and the waitress who becomes his muse, is almost as much a thriller or horror movie as it is a romance. At root, it’s a story about two people who love each other and how they make their relationship work, even if it’s also an incredibly tense and often uncomfortable movie.
4 – Harold and Maude (1971)
Harold and Maude is a classic romantic comedy, but it’s certainly not a “traditional” one. Eight people recommended the film, which follows a young man obsessed with death and a much, much older life-loving woman that he develops a romantic relationship with.
5 – Wild at Heart (1990)
One user called out what feels like an unofficial trilogy of early 1990s films about lovers on the run by different filmmakers, each of which I’ve chosen to include here. The first film (chronologically) is David Lynch’s Wild at Heart which tracks a couple as they hit the road for California from North Carolina and are trailed by a gangster sent after them by one of their mothers. Like many Lynch films, it’s delightfully strange and filled with endearing characters.
6 – True Romance (1993)
The second movie in that trilogy of lovers on the run came from Tony Scott with True Romance. Once again the young couple is on the run from gangsters, but this time the couple is carrying money stolen from the mob. It’s a fast-moving movie filled with an amazing cast including Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette as the young couple with the likes of Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken in supporting roles.
7 – Natural Born Killers (1994)
Natural Born Killers is the last of that early 1990s run of films about lovers on the run and also centers on the most guilty, but still complicatedly lovable, couple: spree murderers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) Knox. The pair take to the road after killing Mallory’s parents and are pursued by police, but keep killing at every stop they make.
8 – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Several commenters suggested Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, another modern classic that’s certainly not a traditional romantic movie. The film follows Joel (Jim Carrey) as he attempts to have an ex-girlfriend erased from his mind after she erases him from hers, but as the procedure takes place decides that he would rather hold onto the memories of her, even if they hurt.
9 – The Handmaiden (2016)
I love to see Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden receive a mention in any context, but it feels especially nice to see it mentioned in a movie about romance. The film centers on a pickpocket who is enlisted by a con man to complete a long con on an heiress but ends up falling for the wealthy woman. It’s a gorgeous movie that’s wonderfully romantic, it just also happens to be an absolutely riveting thriller as well.
10 – Wall-E (2008)
One of my favorite animated films of all time, I was delighted to see Wall-E get a couple of mentions as an unconventionally romantic movie. The film tells the story of the titular Wall-E robot who was left behind on a desolate Earth but falls in love with a probe robot sent to Earth by the surviving humans who now live in space. It’s a sweet film that’s also incredibly intelligent on issues of climate change and consumerism, not only for a kid’s movie but for any movie.
11 – Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
The Ryan Gosling film takes a unique look at love: Gosling's character dates an adult doll. It's a unique film with a wild premise that also ranks as one of Gosling's best performances.
12 – Her (2013)
If you think falling in love with a doll is weird, buckle up for Her, the 2013 film starring Joaquin Phoenix. Directed by Spike Jonze, the film follows Phoenix as he falls in love with an AI virtual assistant.
13 – Punch Drunk Love (2002)
Starring Adam Sandler, the 2002 film by Paul Thomas Anderson represents a departure from what audiences came to expect from Sandler. While it bombed at the box office, the movie developed a cult following surrounding the strength of Sandler's performance.
14 – Palm Springs (2020)
Palm Springs is a comedy featuring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti where Nyles meets Sarah at a wedding, but when she follows him into a mysterious cave, she gets pulled into the endless timeloop that Nyles has been living in for decades. The movie is hilarious and heartwarming too.
15 – But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)
When highschool cheerleader, Megan, is confronted by her friends and family because they think she's a lesbian, she's sent to a conversion therapy camp, run by RuPaul's character Mike. Here, Megan meets other teenagers who are supposed to be “cured” but really, she falls in love with Graham.