Love Stinks! (An Anti-Valentine’s Day List)

14 films that will make you think twice about falling in love.

by | February 13, 2008 | Comments

Love Stinks

There are plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. But what if you’re fed up with love? We’ve put together a list of fourteen movies that we think make a good argument for being single.

The War of the Roses The War of the Roses 81%
Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito
Directed by: Danny DeVito

Synopsis: Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas play a wealthy couple in what seems to be a perfect marriage. But when the marriage falls apart, they end up in what is possibly the nastiest, most bitter (but funny) divorce battle ever put on film.

Why love stinks: The Roses may start out as a happy couple, but that love turns to hate, and they both show some impressive levels of vindictiveness.

Fatal Attraction Fatal Attraction 81%
Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer
Directed by: Adrian Lyne

Synopsis: Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) has a one night stand with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close), but that’s not enough for her. In spite of the fact that he’s a married man, she wants to carry on the affair. As he continues to reject her, she becomes more and more unstable, and ultimately violent.

Why love stinks: Alex goes completely nuts; she kidnaps the kid, boils the bunny, but it’s all done out of love.

Chuck & Buck Chuck & Buck 85%
Starring: Mike White, Chris Weitz
Directed by: Miguel Arteta

Synopsis: Ever have one of those old friends that you just don’t really want to see any more? That’s how Chuck feels about his weirdly obsessive childhood friend Buck. Even though they haven’t spoken for years, Buck just won’t leave Chuck alone, and when Buck starts inserting himself into Chuck’s life, things take a decidedly dark turn.

Why love stinks: It can be hard to realize that an old friend may have changed. It can be even harder to realize that your old friend is stalking you.

To Die For To Die For 87%
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix, Matt Dillon
Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Synopsis: Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) is on her way to becoming a celebrity, and no one is going to stop her. When her husband (Matt Dillon) suggests that she give up her career, she seduces a local teen (Joaquin Phoenix) and convinces him to take care of pesky husband once and for all.

Why love stinks: Just because the beautiful and ruthless career woman says she loves you doesn’t mean you’re not a stepping stone on her way to fame and fortune.

In the Company of Men In the Company of Men 88%
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy, Stacy Edwards
Directed by: Neil LaBute

Synopsis: It doesn’t get much more bitter than this; two businessmen, irritated and frustrated with women in general, romance and then dump a deaf woman that works for them, as a sort of revenge against all women.

Why love stinks: Because sometimes it’s all just an act.

Carnal Knowledge Carnal Knowledge 88%
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Candice Bergin, Ann-Margret
Directed by: Mike Nichols

Synopsis: Jack Nicholsen and Art Garfunkel meet as roommates in college and spend the next 3 decades going through a series of bad relationships and failed marriages. Jack and Art play two sides of the same coin – one is cruel, the other idealistic, but neither of them ever find someone they can be happy with.

Why love stinks: It doesn’t matter if you’re a nice guy or jerk; you’re still never going to find true love.

Far From Heaven Far From Heaven 91%
Starring: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert
Directed by: Todd Haynes

Synopsis: Frank (Dennis Quaid) and Cathy (Julianne Moore) seem like a perfect couple in 1950s Connecticut. Except that Frank is gay. And Cathy is falling for her black gardener (Dennis Haysbert). Like War of the Roses, we see a “perfect” marriage falling apart, but this one isn’t played for laughs.

Why love stinks: Your husband divorces you for another man? That’s got to hurt.

Dangerous Liaisons Dangerous Liaisons 93%
Starring: Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Keanu Reeves, Uma Thurman
Directed by: Stephen Frears

Synopsis: Ultimately based on the 18th century novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, this is another example of using seduction as a platform for revenge, but this one’s an epic. And it’s complicated — John Malkovich seduces Uma Thurman so that Glenn Close can have her revenge against a former lover. But Uma really loves Keanu Reeves. And Malkovich is really interested in Michelle Pfeiffer. But he still wants a night with Glenn Close, who’s now messing around with Keanu. Then things get messy.

Why love stinks: In 18th century France, fighting for the one you loved could easily get you killed.

Reversal of Fortune Reversal of Fortune 94%
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Ron Silver
Directed by: Barbet Schroeder

Synopsis: In 1980, Claus Von Bülow was accused and finally acquitted of attempting to murder his extremely rich wife Sunny. A few years later, Von Bülow’s defense attorney Alan Dershowitz published a book based on trial that was adapted into the Academy Award winning film. Ultimately, the film leaves the viewer to decide whether or not Von Bülow actually tried to kill Sunny; in spite of the acquittal, most of the country figured he was guilty anyway.

Why love stinks: That charming, handsome man might only love you for your money.

Heavenly Creatures Heavenly Creatures 95%
Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet
Directed by: Peter Jackson

Synopsis: Based on the true story of the 1954 Parker-Hulme murder in Christchurch, New Zealand, this is the story of two young girls whose friendship is so deep that they’ll do anything to stay together. Even if it means murder.

Why love stinks: Are you and your lover planning to kill Mum? Maybe it’s time to pause and reconsider…

Remains of the Day Remains of the Day 97%
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Christopher Reeve
Directed by: James Ivory

Synopsis: Anthony Hopkins plays Mr. Stevens, the emotionally repressed butler of Darlington Hall in the 1930s. Stevens works with Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) the housekeeper that has very obviously fallen in love with Stevens. And though Stevens probably loves her too, he’s completely incapable of letting himself show it.

Why love stinks: Some men carry the idea of being proper to its ridiculous extreme.

Lolita Lolita 97%
Starring: James Mason, Shelley Winters, Peter Sellers, Sue Lyon
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Synopsis: Stanley Kubrick’s controversial film (based on the equally controversial novel by Vladimir Nabokov) tells the story of Humbert Humbert, a 40-something professor in love with a 14-year-old girl. What more can we say — it’s really twisted, but it’s got a weird comic style. And it’s worth watching, at least in the context of the rest of Kubrick’s work, if not on its own merits.

Why love stinks: Loving a girl of 14 is wrong. For that matter, so is shooting the man whole stole her away from you.

Body Heat Body Heat 97%
Starring: William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna
Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan

Synopsis: We’ve seen this story before; the ruthless femme fatale talks easily persuaded chump into committing murder, and then leaves him holding the bag. But even though the film is treading familiar ground, Kathleen Turner and William Hurt really.

Why love stinks: Matty’s line when meeting Ned for the first time says it all: “You’re not too smart, are you? I like that in a man.”

Suspicion Suspicion 100%
Starring: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Synopsis: Many women dream of finding the perfect man; a man that is handsome, charming, and successful… But what happens if it’s all a lie? And what do you do if your husband wants to take up murder as a new hobby and he’s decided you’re going to be his first victim? Director Alfred Hitchcock wisely casts Cary Grant as the increasingly untrustworthy Johnnie, and Grant’s cache as a dashing leading man made the horror of Lina’s discoveries about him that much more shocking.

Why love stinks: Because in spite of all of the damning evidence against him, and even though he plans on killing her, Lina still loves Johnnie.


When we first started working on this list, we realized that there were dozens of movies to choose from. Heck, you could argue that Romeo & Juliet serves as a warning against falling in love. So to pare down the list, we used some pretty specific criteria:

  • The movie should to be mainly about a romantic (as opposed to sexual) relationship, where at least one of the characters is thinking they’re in love.
  • The relationship should end badly for someone.
  • The relationship should be internally destructive, as opposed to outside forces keeping the lovers apart (like Brokeback Mountain)
  • In order to keep the list varied, a director only gets one movie on the list (otherwise it could be entirely made up of Neil LaBute films).
  • Although this isn’t a “best” list, we want the Tomatometer scores to be as high as possible.

Lastly, here’s quick list of movies that for one reason or another, we decided not to showcase, but at least deserve some kind of (dis)honorable mention:

Basic Instinct (60%)
Belle de Jour (94%)
Blood Simple (98%)
Blue Velvet (90%)
Boxing Helena (20%)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (93%)
Cruel Intentions (47%)
The Crush (21%)
Dial M for Murder (78%)
Double Indemnity (97%)
Dreamers (61%)
Eyes Wide Shut (78%)
Heathers (94%)
The Last Seduction (94%)
Last Tango in Paris (80%)
Leaving Las Vegas (90%)
Match Point (77%)
Opposite of Sex (85%)
Poison Ivy (46%)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (67%)
Rules of Attraction (42%)
The Shape of Things (65%)
Single White Female (76%)
Sleeping with the Enemy (24%)
Star 80 (89%)
Swimfan (15%)
Threesome (25%)
Two Girls and a Guy (44%)
Unfaithful (47%)
When Will I Be Loved (31%)
Wild Things (64%)

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