How to Kill the Vibe

Anti-date movies for Valentine’s night

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The holiday that was literally constructed by the card companies to ensure their continued survival. It’s a special day when you and your significant other can crack open a bottle of wine, snuggle up together in a warm blanket, and throw on a heartfelt love story that’ll leave the two of you in high spirits. 

This is where I should recommend a handful of films that fit that mold to a tee. But naw; forget all that. Instead, I think it’d be fun to recommend some anti-date movies. The ones that feature toxic interactions, failed relationships, and enough ugly cry tears to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. 

Here are a couple of films that are perfect for killing the vibe on the day that’s supposed to be all about love.

Blue Valentine

If there’s one word I’d use to describe Blue Valentine it would be, “bittersweet.” The film follows a couple played by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling who are trying their damndest to save their marriage that’s currently at the brink of crumbling. 

Juxtaposed with the bleak reality of their present is the couple’s past and the origins of their relationship. The real meat and potatoes of the film stem from the dichotomy between the beautiful inception of their relationship and the crushing downfall we know is coming. 

And while the film is chock full of cute moments you can totally steal to fool your partner into thinking you’re romantic, it also isn’t afraid to veer into some dark places. It’s a brutally honest look at the reality that is falling out of love with the person you were so sure you’d spend the rest of your life with. 

If you want a film for Valentine’s night that will have you questioning your long term commitment with your partner; Blue Valentine is the one.

Gone Girl

I’m not so sure what the shortlist for most toxic couples ever put to the big screen currently looks like, but Amy and Nick Dunne, the couple at the center of David Fincher’s Gone Girl, have to be on it. 

The film follows the couple played by Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck as the two traverse their increasingly destructive relationship. One that quickly escalates from, “I’m sick of seeing your lethargic ass play Black Ops II all day” to, “I’m about to fake my own death and frame you for my murder. Good luck, you jerk!” 

At first glance this film seems like your typical, albeit still expertly crafted, dramatic thriller, but upon closer inspection you realize it’s really a cautionary tale of the dangers of falling in love with one’s superficial persona. We’re all familiar with the idea of becoming the best version of yourself to impress those you’re interested in. 

This film explores that idea and the fallout that can occur when that version of yourself begins to fade. So stay on your toes y’all. You never know how your partner might react if they begin to suspect you’re a bum.

A few other films that fit the anti-date movie bill include, Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach’s ironically titled tale of a couple navigating their divorce; Ari Aster’s Midsommar, what has to be one of the most unsettling thriller films that’s also somehow a break up movie; and 500 Days of Summer, a film I like to bring up if only to ask the question; what happened to our guy Joseph Gordon-Levitt? 

Homeboy was running the gamut in the early 2010s, but in 2023 that couldn’t be farther from the case. Forgive me. I’m just thinking out loud again. 

Anyway, here’s to Saint Valentine and the fake holiday named in his stead. Whether it be one of the films mentioned or a more traditional romance film you choose to watch, just make sure you’re doing so alongside someone you care for deeply.

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