It’s almost Valentine’s Day, a holiday that seems to exist more as an opportunity to smear your smug love in the faces of third parties than it does to celebrate your love with your loved one. I mean, just picking one day seems kind of arbitrary to do that.
So while the lovers are off overpaying for fixed-price dinners with seatings at 6:00, 8:30, and 11:00, or spending $40 dollars on some frozen roses, the single can take a moment to breathe in the air the surrounds them. Air free of obligation, compromise, or regret. OK. That sounds pretty damn smug, too.
Let’s compromise: If you’re in a relationship, you have every right to be happy. But, you best watch out, because there can be way more downside than improperly-squeezed toothpaste, default toilet seat position arguments, and visiting in-laws. There’s also murder, jealousy, wrath, and just a general vitriol that single people just don’t have to worry about.
And here are seven films that can back that up.
When you begin a relationship, especially an affair, there’s a good chance that it will end with a vindictive, desperate lover, boiling your daughter’s pet rabbit in a pot of water in your kitchen.
Failed relationships kill kids’ rabbits. That’s the takeaway here. Oh, and don’t cheat on your wife. But mainly, if you don’t get into any relationships, the rabbits will die of old age. Or in the hands of Lenny from Of Mice and Men.
Granted, Reese Witherspoon’s character’s problem really didn’t start until she was back to being single, but that’s pretty semantic. All this happens when you date Mark Wahlberg. Or his character. Maybe both.
Fear teaches us that your best judgment can be really, really wrong, and even something as innocuous as a high school fling can go from fingering you on a rollercoaster one second, to cutting your dog’s head off later on. The film could be called Fear (of Intimacy) because it could cause even the most romantic of souls to run a background check on the one they’re with.
We’ll call this one a worst-case scenario, but it still serves as a pretty compelling cautionary tale. Hopefully you don’t think of yourself as cast in the vein of Sid Vicious or Nancy Spungen, but it’s an extreme case of the all too common issues of codependency and enabling that destructive relationships are known for. You keep screwing up? You don’t need to change, just find another person who accepts you, and you’ll never need to improve. You just keep screwing up. And when that person realizes that maybe you’re not such a great catch (possibly after slamming some H), they decide to end things by killing you. Then when they’re in jail, they realized that the fragile little world they’ve built for themselves is a charade, and they kill themselves while awaiting trial for murder.
Again, not the norm, but indicative of some relationship pitfalls.
Casino showcases a lot of bad people. In fact, everyone in Casino is pretty much a different form of human garbage. But in a cast rife with unlikable sociopaths, Sharon Stone rises above the rest in Ginger. Ginger has a drug problem, anger issues, baggage in the form of a pimp ex-boyfriend named Lester, a tendency to steal, and gross indifference to her child.
Yet, she manages to bring Ace Rothstein to his knees every time. Not literally. Don’t be gross.
De Niro’s Sam Rothstein is about as cold and calculating as they come. So if this criminal mastermind can’t withstand the charms of this succubus, there’s no hope for you. Stay single or your children will be stolen by a pimp named Lester.
Many thought John Cusack to be the archetypical romantic in Say Anything. And it could be argued by cynics (and possibly pragmatists) that his High Fidelity character, Rob Gordon, is what happens to the same young idealistic romantic when they experience failure in relationships over. And over. And over. They start obsessing over lost loves, lose ambition and perspective, make lists over inane things while maintaining a detached air over everyone they encounter as a defense mechanism.
In short, they become hipsters. Ick.
Do you know how many love stories are sad? About half of them. And Titanic is the Titanic of them, if you will. If Jack hadn’t met Rose on that ship, he probably would have found his way onto a life raft, drifted around, then ended up becoming a character in Boardwalk Empire that gets shot in the head around the end of season two.
Seriously…as trite as it is dissecting the sappiness of a film like Titanic, you know what’s better than spending two great days with someone and wearing a tuxedo? Living the next 50 years of your life. But that wasn’t an option for Jack because he was snowblind from love. So he died freezing and trying to hang on to an armoire in the middle of the Atlantic.
It might be a story for the ages, but I don’t think anyone would want to change places with Jack if they had the gift of hindsight. Not for all the sweaty, steamy Model-T Ford car sex in the world.
Since I can’t put the “dinner party” episode of The Office up here, I’ll put its cinematic equivalent. The film adaptation of the Edward Albee play pits two couples contending with internal and external discord in one room for two hours. “Uncomfortable” doesn’t begin to describe the slow-motion trainwreck of dysfunction that develops for both the young couple and the older couple—who clearly serve as a portent of things to come.
While it’s not an evenhanded portrayal of any loving institution, it does serve to show the contempt, suffering, and fatigue that can come from sharing your life with another. It serves as a sort of gory driver’s ed video for the bumpy road that is relationships.
“This isn’t the way things normally go, but they can get this bad if you’re not working or paying attention.”
Let’s just hope you all are. To the single, dating, and betrothed: Have a happy day, celebrate (or not) however you would like, and don’t end up like these poor bastards.