Six movies for every kind of Valentine’s Day

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

While many couples likely appreciate Valentine’s Day, the holiday can be a crude reminder of relationship status for those who are single. To make matters worse, romances overpopulate basically all forms of popular culture. Television series nearly always dedicate ongoing storylines to courtship; movies insert love interests regardless of their relevance to plots.

As such, Valentine’s Day can feel especially lonely. Fortunately, many films understand these feelings of isolation, longing and loneliness. For anyone experiencing Valentine’s Day blues, here are six movie recommendations that fit a variety of circumstances.

500 Days of Summer

“500 Days of Summer” is a quintessential romantic comedy for the hopeless romantics dealing with heartbreak and heartache. The 2009 film, directed by Marc Webb (“Gifted”), stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Looper”) and Zooey Deschanel (“New Girl”) as a misfit couple, Tom and Summer. Their relationship is presented in a nonlinear fashion, jumping before and after their fling. Timestamps constantly mark which day of the titular 500 the storyline is in, allowing viewers to differentiate between them. The earlier half captures their progression from coworkers to an unofficial couple, whereas the latter half displays a heartbroken, depressed version of Tom after their breakup.

The movie is an absolute blast. From dancing sequences in the streets to Tom’s melodramatics, “500 Days of Summer” never fails to amuse and entertain. Its lasting power, however, stems from its universally identifiable presentation of love and romance. Tom’s yearning will almost certainly speak to anyone pining for a true love of their own.

Lost in Translation

While representations of love are certainly the natural go-to on Valentine’s Day, not all versions of loneliness specifically pertain to romance. Sofia Coppola’s (“The Virgin Suicides”) 2003 drama details two isolated individuals who are each unhappily trapped in a city far from home — Tokyo. Bill Murray (“Groundhog Day”) plays Bob Harris, an American celebrity shooting advertisements in Japan. Opposite to him, Scarlett Johansson (“The Avengers”) is a recently married college graduate named Charlotte, who was brought to the foreign country by her neglectful, self-absorbed husband. 

Staying at the same hotel, the two protagonists cross paths and develop an unlikely friendship, thanks in part to their need for English-speaking friends in a foreign land. While Bob and Charlotte’s kinship might initially seem shallow and built upon only circumstance, they forge a deeper connection as they wander and eplore the foreign city. They reveal themselves to be lonely, isolated individuals, lost in a crowded, noisy world. 

For those feeling homesick, isolated or directionless, Coppola’s drama offers solace. It only takes one authentic friendship or connection to pull someone
back to life.

Call Me by Your Name

Representation matters. In a world where heternormative behavior dominates popular culture, having the ability to identify with movies can be empowering for a lot of people. This is just one reason why Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name,” a drama about a teenage boy’s romance with an older man, is important for so many. More than that, though, the former Best Picture nominee happens to be a beautiful, heart-wrenching love story.

Set during the 1980s in the Italian countryside, the film stars Timothee Chalamet (“Little Women”) in his breakout performance and Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) as Elio and Oliver. The pair of precocious, intelligent young men are united under one roof by Elio’s father, who employs Oliver as a research assistant. Sharing palpable chemistry, the men progress from subtextual flirtations to secret romance.

While “Call Me by Your Name” proves to be one of the best LGTBQ films of the 2010s, its beauty is profoundly moving for anyone looking for an unlikely romance.

The Edge of Seventeen

In 2016, Kelly Fremon Craig released her coming-of-age comedy about a socially awkward girl, struggling to find her footing in high school. Hailee Steinfeld (“Bumblebee”) shines as Nadine, the movie’s quippy, energetic protagonist. Simmering beneath the surface, Nadine struggles with mental health and problems at home — issues that are exacerbated when her best friend begins dating her brother.

Late adolescence and early adulthood are difficult times for a great many people, and “The Edge of Seventeen” understands that. Nadine fumbles her way through friendships, school, boys and family, yearning for a connection and feeling that will make her feel like she fits in her own world. 

The socially anxious and malcontents will be able to relate and identify with her struggles.

Swingers

Without a doubt, “Swingers” is the most bro-ey movie on this list. Written by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), the 1996 comedy chronicles a pair of aspiring actors as one of them navigates a recent breakup. Favreau plays the heartbroken protagonist, Mike; opposite to him, a young Vince Vaughn (“Dodgeball”) excels as his effervescent hype-man, Trent. In a star-making turn for Vaughn, Trent constantly encourages Mike to put himself back out there, frequently shouting things like “You’re so money and you don’t even know it!”

Although much of the film’s developments might feel a little womanizing in nature, the magic of “Swingers” comes from Mike and Trent’s dynamic. The electric rapport between Vaughn and Favreau ignites the movie, inspiring Mike — and viewers — to regain their confidence and put themselves back out there. Recently single individuals may be moved toward their own self-assurance through this comedy.

Frances Ha

This 2012 drama from Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story”) is not a traditional Valentine’s Day movie. Frances — the lively protagonist, played by Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) — does not explicitly cope with romance or heartbreak. Rather, “Frances Ha” celebrates the beauty of independence and finding oneself through a tumultuous, difficult period of early adulthood.

In her mid-late twenties, Frances struggles to find her footing in New York City. Her dancing career stagnates, and her friends pair off with romantic partners. As her best friend and roommate, Sophie, begins to settle down, Frances is left to fend for herself in the Big Apple.

With gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, the spellbinding “Frances Ha” proves a remarkable and empowering fit for the audiences looking to celebrate their independence on Valentine’s Day.