Forget the flowers and save yourself the calories from heart-shaped chocolates, because Valentine’s Day only leaves couples feeling penniless after splashing out on tacky gifts and single people reminded of their bad luck in love. So for everyone out there who’s against the blatant commercialism of the festival, here are some anti-Valentine’s films, full of divorce, separation and infidelity. Bridget Jones got it right; why have one man in your life when you can have two? And I don’t mean Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, I mean Ben and Jerry.
1. Fatal Attraction (1987) Rabbit stew anyone? This horror thriller, directed by Adrian Lyne (Foxes, Unfaithful) stars Michael Douglas, Anne Archer and Glenn Close - who is no stranger to playing mysterious, seductive and unfaithful women who have a tendency to get their lovers into dangerous and deadly situations. Close's 'femme fatale' style characters in various films include the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons and evil Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians. In Fatal Attraction, she plays Alex Forrest who has an affair with happily married Dan Gallagher (Douglas), but when he declares their relationship over, she becomes obsessed, and begins to stalk and blackmail him before eventually boiling his family's pet bunny. Fatal Attraction was adapted from the 1980 short British film, Diversion.
2. Unfaithful (2002) Once again, Adrian Lyne delves into the murky world of extra-marital affairs in Unfaithful, an adaptation of the 1968 French film, The Unfaithful Wife (La Femme Infidèle). Starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, this erotic drama sees married Connie Sumner (Lane) have an affair with a total stranger. The film is known for its prolonged and steamy sex scenes shot though smoke. Entertainment Weekly ranked Unfaithful at number 27 in their 50 Sexiest Films chart. In addition, Lane won the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle awards for her seductive role.
3. A Separation (2011) Affairs aside, we come onto the woes of separation. This Iranian film, directed by Asghar Farhadi (About Elly) sees a middle class couple who after 14 years of marriage, sadly go their separate ways. The powerful drama, starring Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi, has received a number of awards and nominations, despite its depressing subject matter. It was the first Iranian film to win a Golden Bear award, scooping a Golden Bear for Best Film and the Silver Bears for Best Actress and Best Actor at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival. In addition it has received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in this year's Academy Awards ceremony.
4. Brighton Rock (2010) Adapted from Graham Greene's novel of the same name, this film tells the heart breaking story of an innocent and vulnerable young woman who is fooled into falling in love and marrying a sociopath gang member. By the poignant ending Rose, as played by Andrea Riseborough (Never Let Me Go, W.E) is left thinking her murderous and recently deceased husband, Pinkie (Sam Riley), really loves her, when nothing could be further from the truth. Film critic, Stephen Holden, described the film as 'no longer a passion play but a gritty and despairing noir'. Brighton Rock is a modern day take on the novel and 1947 film, which was originally set in the 1930s; many of the scenes were shot along Eastbourne Pier, despite being set in Brighton. Just what you need to cheer you up on Valentine's Day isn't it?
5. American Beauty (1999) The well known poster for this film features a naked woman's stomach, surrounded by red rose petals, which suggests straight away that there are going to be plenty of saucy scenes. However, the film is much deeper than that, delving into themes that include sexuality, beauty, materialism and redemption. When Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) has a mid-life crisis, he begins to become obsessed with his teenage daughter's girl friend; this is where the famous red rose petals become a recurring motif. Director, Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition, Skyfall) won an Academy Award for Best Director and a Golden Globe for Best Director for American Beauty.
6. Revolutionary Road (2008) This American/British drama film - directed by Sam Mendes - reunites Titanic's Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, who play characters who certainly do not have a relationship as passionate and loving as Rose and Jack. Based on Richard Yate's 1961 novel of the same name, the story is set in the 1950s New England where April and Frank discover that married life isn't as easy as they think. The film explores how the couple feel totally alone and therein lies their tragedy; they both yearn for something more in life, which Yates describes as ' the tattered remnants of the American Dream'. The film received critical acclaim, scooping nominations for three major Golden Globes and six BAFTA's as well as three minor Oscars.
7. Alfie (1966) Compared to the loneliness April and Frank felt in Revolutionary Road, smooth-talking, womaniser, Alfie, couldn't be surrounded by more ladies if he tried. But as we soon discover, this doesn't make you any happier. Directed by Lewis Gilber (Educating Rita, The Spy Who Loved Me) we see egotistical, selfish Alfie (Michael Caine) jumping from one woman to another, running a string of affairs and even getting one lady pregnant. By the time he decides to end his non-committal habit, the woman he is truly in love with has found another man, leaving the film with a disheartening ending. The film - which won the Special Jury Prize at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival - was remade in 2004, starring Jude Law. However, it received poor reviews; the Rolling Stone awarded the film just two stars, quipping 'What's that all about, Alfie?'
8. War of the Roses (1989) Broken love may be centred around affairs and divorces, but it also has its funny moments too. This comedy sees a couple go through a divorce, but not before they argue over their possessions, from antiques to the cat, which spark all manner of entertaining scenes. Starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, the Danny DeVito direction received three Golden Globe nominations, one of which was for Best Motion Picture. It also has an impressive 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A classic.
9. The Break-Up (2006) Comedy actors, Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, star in this American comedy where everything seems to go wrong for them. Gary (Vaughn) and Brooke (Aniston) break up but are forced to live together for a little while. This gives them the opportunity to really get on each others nerves and tap at their pet hates. Shockingly, this film goes against the cheesy Hollywood cliché; the couple do not eventually realise they are made for one another and run into each other’s arms in slow motion, but instead, go their separate ways and remain friends. The reality of relationships is reflected here; it was described by a film critic at the Globe and Mail as an 'anti-romance comedy'.
10. Love Stinks (1999) If you thought the outrageous pranks and shenanigans in War of the Roses were cringe-worthy enough, then Love Stinks makes it look like child's play. After Seth (French Stewart) and Chelsea (Bridgette Wilson) break up, they do everything in their nature to embarrass their ex and destroy each another's lives. It makes the average relationship seem like a walk in the park!