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Happy Valentine’s Day: 10 Movie Couples We Heart

Happy Valentine's Day: 10 Movie Couples We Heart

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we here at Indiewire thought it best to share with you some of our personal favorite on-screen couples to grace the big screen over the past 30 or so years. This list is by no means definitive (like we said, personal picks), so please tell us in the comments section below what movie couples you heart.

“Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight,” Jesse and Celine
With the third film in Richard Linklater’s “Before” series having just gone over extremely well in Sundance and Berlin, it’s time to rewatch “Sunrise” and “Sunset” before “Midnight” hits theaters this May. Together, they represent a sincerely unprecedented trilogy featuring one of cinema’s most fully formed couples, Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke). From that night in Vienna when they met at 23 to that afternoon in Paris when they were 32 to the entire day and night we get with them in Greece when they are 41, the collaborative force of Delpy, Hawke and Linklater (who co-wrote the films together) has given us an increasingly legendary onscreen pair. Celine and Jesse Forever. [Peter Knegt]

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Joel and Clementine
“Meet me at Montauk” is the refrain that is intent on reuniting the offbeat couple in Michel Gondry’s romantic sci-fi “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind” with an Oscar-winning script by Charlie Kaufman. Sure the place holds a meaningful place for the couple, but when you’ve attempted to erase your memory of your relationship from your mind completely, perhaps you don’t want to head there at all. In Montauk, Celementine and Joel consummate their unlikely love (he is straight laced; she dyes her hair silly colors) and meet (but maybe not for the first time). When the film is over, it’s clear Clementine and Joel may not have been a match made in heaven, but they sure enjoy falling in love with each other (a few times over). [Bryce Renninger]


“Garden State,” Andrew and Sam
You know it’s real love when it happens over a few days and begins with a song by The Shins. One of the best self-discovery-meets-indie-romance stories, “Garden State” gives us two people that any one who’s terrified of falling in love can connect to. Natalie Portman’s quirky Sam, a pathological liar that guilty admits to her false stories and wears a helmet to work is the perfectly weird, charming character a great indie film needs. Zach Braff’s drug-numbed Andrew, searching for something meaningful in his life, finally learns how to let go, and jump in. The endearing couple reminds us that romances don’t need to be overly dramatic and of the beautiful sentiment that finding yourself can happen through finding love. [Erin Whitney]

“Harold and Maude,” Harold and Maude
Harold Chasen and Marjorie “Maude” Chardin’s relationship begins at a cemetery and ends in a hospital, hardly a conventional setting for the blooming and breaking of a prototypical Hollywood couple. But of course, there was never anything conventional about the relationship between the death-obsessed 20-something Harold and the free-spirited 79-year-old Maude, and this is exactly what has made Hal Ashby’s 1971 comedy endure the way it has in the 42(!) years since its release. The cult favorite has now influenced just about every unlikely pairing of the last four decades, but with its harsh criticism on social expectations, the original remains one of film’s best explorations on how love makes its own paths. And the soundtrack by Cat Stevens certainly doesn’t hurt. [Cameron Sinz]

“Lars and the Real Girl,” Lars and Bianca
An unusual love story that shows the powerful effect an imaginary, yet revealing relationship can have on a community, “Lars and the Real Girl” may have the most bizarre and beautiful couple indie cinema has seen. When Lars first introduces his new girlfriend Bianca, a blow-up doll ordered online, at first it seems that the perverted mind of a shy Ryan Gosling is about to be uncovered. But instead of using Bianca to indulge in sexual fantasies, as other men in the town admit they’d do, Lars’ imaginary relationship begins to heal him, giving him the security and confidence he never had. This is no one-sided couple, as Bianca starts to represent the many latent characteristics and sufferings that cause Lars to be the taciturn, awkward guy he is. Along with the unconventionality of the film, it’s through Bianca’s “death” that Lars finally finds love. [Erin Whitney]

“Lost in Translation,” Bob and Charlotte
Bob (Bill Murrary) is an American movie star shooting a Japanese Whiskey commercial. Charlotte is the wife of a photographer, confining herself to their hotel room while her husband is away on a shoot. Bob and Charlotte meet in the bar of their Tokyo hotel, and as their friendship begins to grow, they find peace in spending their time together amidst the dissatisfaction that consumes their daily life. Sofia Coppola’s “Lost In Translation” creates a space around these characters as intimate as their relationship. It’s a film of fleeting moments, as temporary and memorable as any chance encounter experienced in reality. Coppola provides a continuous watchful eye over the preceding, but never takes the film away from Murray and Johansson, both proving themselves to be more than up to the task of countering their usual on-screen roles. [Cameron Sinz]

“Punch-Drunk Love,” Barry and Lena
An unconventional love story if there ever was one, Paul Thomas Anderon’s swooning and wonderfully bizarre love story “Punch Drunk Love” centers on Barry, a tormented and troubled novelty supplier (an revelatory Adam Sandler) who finds a kindred spirit in the soft-spoken and doe-eyed Lena, a co-worker of one of his heinous sisters. They meet after Lena asks Barry to look after her damaged car, then go out on a dinner date where Barry smashes up the bathroom in a blind fit of rage. Rather than recoil in terror, Lena gently observes “your hand is bleeding” and goes on as if nothing bad happened. In Lena, Barry finds a woman who can calm his volatile ways and in Barry, Lena finds a man willing to give himself over to her, mind, body and soul. [Nigel M. Smith]


“Silver Linings Playbook,” Pat and Tiffany
A man suffering from bipolar disorder and a recovering sex form the inspired pairing at the heart of David O. Russell’s Oscar-nominated juggernaut, “Silver Linings Playbook.” Released from a mental facility and into the care of his sports-obsessed parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver), Pat (Bradley Cooper) is thrown for a loop after meeting Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a sexually forward young widow with her own set of issues. Each bereft of accepted social mores, Tiffany and Pat at first butt heads because of their combined tendency to say whatever comes to mind. But eventually, their brazen personalities unite them, nowhere more than on the dancefloor, where Russell stages a romantic climax that’s one for the books.  [Nigel M. Smith]

“Something Wild,” Charles and Lulu
Jonathan Demme may be best known for his more serious directorial efforts such as “Philadelphia” and “The Silence of the Lambs,” but one of his most accomplished, and beloved works, predated both of those in 1986’s “Something Wild.” Jeff Daniels plays a just-promoted Manhattan businessman “kidnapped” one afternoon by Melanie Griffith’s idiosyncratic Lulu and taken to a New Jersey hotel room. What first appears to be a good guy meets bad girl story quickly unravels into something much more unexpected, with the appearance of Lulu’s ex-husband (Ray Liotta). As his dignity and her eroticism are stripped away, Demme never loses the sense of excitement that brought them together in the first place. Taglines for the film promised “Something different, something daring, something dangerous,” and it’s hard to find a better encapsulation of the film’s, and the character’s, willingness to explore the frightening unknown. [Cameron Sinz]

“Wild at Heart,” Sailor and Lula
While some on-screen relationships strike us with their honest sincerity, David Lynch’s 1990 Palme d’or winner “Wild At Heart,” instead chooses to assault the viewer with the ferocity of a jackhammer. Nicolas Cage effortlessly fits into the role of Elvis stand-in Sailor Riply, who after a stint-in jail is reunited with his snakeskin jacket (“a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom”) and his hyper-sexualized lover Lula, played by Laura Dern at her most gleefully excessive. Fleeing Lula’s Wicked Witch-esque mother, the two quickly ditch town, along the way encountering bank robberies, staged musical numbers, and a particularly vicious Willem Dafoe sporting one of the greatest pairs of dentures in cinematic history. But beneath the typical level of Lynchian parody and absurdism lies an honest-to-goodness sincerity lacking in much of his filmography. It’s a story of love at its most untamed, and not even Lynch has the power to stomp it out. [Cameron Sinz]


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