Out & About
An iconic scene from Casablanca
It's February, the shortest month of the year. That means Valentine's Day is looming and people are thinking about love.
Casablanca is arguably the most timeless tale of heartbreak and adoration ever committed to screen. Now more than 70 years old, the film centres on Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a bar owner in Morocco, and the action takes place amid the Nazi and Vichy occupation of North Africa.
Of all the gin joints in all the world Rick's lost love Isla Lund (Ingrid Bergman) shows up at his, on the run from the authorities with Victor Laszlo, leader of the Czech resistance. Embittered, cynical, and constantly drunk, Rick is initially unsure about assisting the pair of fugitives, in turn losing Isla forever and putting his own life in danger. Eventually he does, and sacrifices are made to help them flee, meaning the loveable anti-hero is left alone again with little more than his sarcasm and Sam the pianist to keep him company.
So, Casablanca isn't an average romance, because the real love story is about a relationship that cannot exist. This got us thinking about a few other cinematic gems that strike a chord with the heartstrings, not because they offer sickly sweet tales, but as a result of their realistic portrayal of life's complications in matters of the heart. After some deliberation we managed to draw up this list, so here are five features all discerning film buffs should consider come February 14th.
Another Day In Paradise - Larry Clark, 1998
Four junkies hit the road, planning a series of robberies. It doesn't sound romantic, but once the film finishes you'll be on the phone faster than you can say 'better call my loved ones to tell them how much they mean to me'. Tragedy barely comes close.
Buffalo 66 - Vincent Gallo, 1998
Billy just got out of jail, but his parents think he's been working abroad. They're also under the impression he has a wife, and so he kidnaps a girl called Layla and forces her to visit the folks for dinner, pretending to be his spouse. Off beat in extremis, it's also utterly charming.
Knocked Up - Judd Apatow, 2007
A one-night stand leaves TV presenter Alison pregnant with the child of stoner-bum Ben. Irrespective of their huge differences a haphazard relationship blossoms and, despite arguably being a little too long at 129 minutes, a witty and poignant tale of modern love unfolds.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Michel Gondry, 2004
Bizarre and absolutely incomparable, Gondry's debut feature is the most accomplished on this list. Two people try to erase the painful memories of their once beautiful relationship via a new treatment, and wind up realising how precious such treasured moments actually are.
Annie Hall - Woody Allen, 1977
Little can be said about this groundbreaking outing that hasn't been written before. Arguably the original major work of late 20th Century realist romance, the male-female relationship is explored in great detail, with the highs and lows laid bare for all to see, and empathise with.