As John Belushi sang at the end of Blues Brothers, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” this is more true than ever during the holiday season when loneliness can be complicated even if surrounded by friends and parents.
In these stressful or isolating situations, nothing is better than putting on a good movie and experiencing those refined emotions filtered through someone else’s mind and style.
Someone who, after all, is not as different from you as I or someone else is not because, after all, we all have the same hidden drives & desires that remove the veneer with which we complicate our lives always boils down to the usual few essential needs.
Now that the holidays are almost over and the big binge of dinners and celebrations is through let’s take advantage of the few days that separate us from the end of the year and the beginning of the new one to relax on the couch in the company of some strange romance in some of the most original, funny and intriguing movies released in recent years.
You don’t have to worry about being excluded because our catalog includes something for every taste, or the central theme remains the same: we all need someone to love and someone to love us back.
Table of contents
Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)
Just start by literally unleashing a genie of the lamp in a bizarre fantasy love movie by the great George Miller, the mastermind behind the timeless Mad Max saga.
It all begins with Alithea Binnie, a lonely expert and scholar of mythology, who travels to Istanbul for a conference.
When he later returns to his hotel, amid bizarre and unlikely hallucinations, she stops at a flea market and buys an antique flask.
Once in her room, admiring the cheaply purchased ancient relic, she rubs it and releases a colossal Djinn, a legendary creature who puts himself at her service, ready to fulfill her most secret wishes.
The woman, however, does not react as expected; on the contrary, she wants to take the flask and put this nonsense behind her, so the Djinn hopes to convince her by recounting the exploits of his previous masters who have come and gone over the centuries.
As she listens to the tale, Alithea becomes increasingly curious and intrigued by Djinn’s strange life and begins to feel an increasingly irresistible attraction to him.
Miller strikes again with fantasy as with romance and comedy The Witches of Eastwick, focusing, instead of horror, on classic romance with a movie that offers two outstanding leads besides his flawless direction.
Elba perfectly embodies a cool and sexy genius of great charisma and sensitiveness, as well as sad and almost resigned to his fate, while Swinton is a marvel of transformation from initial detached disinterest to increasingly passionate involvement with the Djinn.
A magical movie of love and spells, trust and deception, suspended between the cold present of today and a warm past that never existed.
The Girl Who Invented Kissing (2017)
Let’s get back to reality with a charming love movie about two brothers, Victor and Jimmy, whose existence is turned upside down by a beautiful and mysterious girl who, one fine day, barges right into their little pub in Bloomfield, New Jersey.
Their small town, while pretty and quiet, does not offer much to make life exciting, and besides the two brothers, Victor has mental problems after a severe accident many years earlier.
It is exasperating for Jimmy to have to take care of his family and run the pub, still feeling guilty because Victor saved his life while he was drowning, suffering brain damage from too prolonged an absence of oxygen.
But along the town’s main road comes a homeless young traveler, who immediately befriends Victor without taking advantage or teasing him for his spontaneous childlike naiveté.
Amid general mistrust, she soon wins the trust and esteem of everyone, even that of Jimmy, who has feelings for her beyond friendship.
Tom Sierchio deliciously surprises us by writing and directing a story of lonely hearts made up of big feelings in the small world of American suburbia.
A modern fairy tale where marriage is not synonymous with “happily ever after,” and indeed, the best character is the beautiful Suki Waterhouse, a wise young street guru who we discover is much more honest (and fragile) than she may seem.
An ordinary story that captivates thanks to the unique mixture of small details, simple and believable dialogues, and, above all, a simple and clean direction without unnecessary or snooty camera virtuosity.
Phantom Thread (2017)
The next movie is especially significant, as far as I am concerned, not only for being a story with one of the most bizarre relationships of love, hate, and addiction.
Above all, it is also a cinematic milestone because it is officially the last performance of the great Daniel Day-Lewis, one of my favorite actors of all generations, unless he changes his mind and cancels his retirement from the silver screen in the future.
Here, the dear old Daniel plays the sullen Reynolds Woodcock, master tailor, and control freak, over every aspect of his life, accepting advice only from his beloved sister, Cyril.
Paradoxically, his misanthropic attitude gives him a large cohort of admirers between high society women and fashion models who would love to steal his heart.
To the surprise of everyone, including Cyril, the only one to succeed is the apparently quiet Alma Elson, a humble inn servant who impresses Reynolds’ petrified spirit and becomes the muse for his fabric masterpieces.
However, over time, the relationship deteriorates and seems to end; still, a cruel act by Alma changes everything, transforming the absurd love affair into a game of power where the roles of victim and dominator constantly reverse.
Directing this instant classic of costume drama is the brilliant Paul Thomas Anderson, as usual, with his elegant and impeccable style and no mercy in dealing with his stories and characters.
Daniel Day-Lewis proves one last time that he is a perfect acting monster in every role, amply assisted by the less famous but equally talented Vicky Krieps.
A (nearly) three-sided love story that complements the wiser but often powerless Lesley Manville, closing the circle of a movie that so far remains the spiritual testament to the career of a resounding actor.
Despite his long career of making extraordinary movies, this is still my favorite by the great director Wong Kar-wai, a perfect poem about how men and women deal with longing, love, and loneliness.
The main character is Chow Mo-Wan, a writer and journalist who, as he does every year, spends the end-of-year vacations in the same Hong Kong hotel, always in the same room, 2046.
During this short period, year after year, we see him have several love affairs with three essential companions: a prostitute, the hotelier’s young daughter and aspiring writer, and finally, a mysterious gambler.
Despite these women’s desire for him, none of them can win and have him completely, because the man is already heartbroken from another old romance.
Wong Kar-wai fearlessly explores the no-man’s-land without rules in the many complexities of the human experience of feelings, with the number of the protagonist’s room, a safe haven away from the world, also being that 2046 will mark the expiration of the 1984 Bilateral Agreement and the final transition of Hong Kong from British rule to Chinese territory.
Tony Leung is an intelligent and witty protagonist, far from the charming womanizer figure stereotyped in cinema, but no less a writer and artist who attracts uniquely rare and beautiful women such as Carina Lau, Zhang Ziyi, and Gong Li.
We thus admire a collection of gorgeous Asian divas who, despite the movie’s box-office failure, are the throbbing heart of a story that is a hymn to love free and untainted by any consideration of so-called modern society.
One of those movies I recommend most to those who feel a little lonely during the holidays, lighting the way to happiness that always comes in the most unexpected times and ways.
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Since we chose love as the theme for today’s movies, how better to conclude than by talking about two of the most famous lovers of all time in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?
I admit to never having been a big fan of Baz Luhrmann‘s over-the-top style in pacing and vibrant, saturating colors, yet here the eccentric Australian director is simply peerless in bringing to life yet another version of this great literary classic, updating it ideally to the present day.
The story (and dialogue) remain precisely as in the original, shifting the action from old Renaissance Italy to the sunny Verona Beach of modern America, where the two powerful families of the Capulets and the Montagues endlessly battle.
However, during a party/parade where all the members of both factions are guests, young Romeo and Juliet, first-born children of the two families, meet, and fatefully, it is immediately love at first sight impossible to give up.
Amid duels, lies, and cheating just to be together, the tragedy will come to the inevitable conclusion we all know, taking this love story to the untouchable Olympus of hopeless romance.
Baz Luhrmann combines action at its best (as he may never do again) with the swirling rhythm of continuous music, including absurd battles in the middle of the street and off-the-wall dancing that turn the story almost into a musical on steroids that, however, does not leave out the two great main protagonists.
In the role of Romeo, we have a still not-so-famous Leonardo DiCaprio, a perfect poet warrior with a restless and tormented soul who wins the heart of the very talented and charming Claire Danes, who, however, will not have the same immensely successful career as her young colleague.