Valentine’s Day Flicks No need to fight back the tears this time

tearjerker (noun)

a pathetic story, play, movie, or the like; an excessively sentimental tale.

The word was coined circa 1930s – just in time to couple the introduction and incorporation of sound into movies and musicals – in a time that desperately needed the respite. Sure, films have since brought us as many giggles as they have pickles, but even the stoutest of us all can hardly resist the saccharine temptation to have that one proper bawl while watching someone else’s perception and abstraction of love. Fighting back the tears, however, and succeeding to or not, was always just going to be a protest.

Need a challenge? Our writers have curated a list drenched in their own tears with tearjerkers that could cause you to tip on the Valentine’s night. Not that we’d like you to; but isn’t sharing just tearjerkingly caring?

Pick: Jeux d’enfants / Love Me If You Dare

Valentine’s Day has been difficult for me, and I’d accuse it to be like any other day – a fraudulent “holiday” created by the marketing machine of greeting cards. Argh, let’s just say I was once happy, and the “tine” of the perfectly gay ship name #Valentine – a cruel amalgamation of my name, and my once love-of-my-life’s. Yes, I’ll be forever associating the day with such regret and nostalgia of what seemed like a #fated #fairytale.

Here’s where the French film Jeux d’enfants comes into the picture – it takes me back to better (bitter?) days. A bittersweet romantic film focussing on seemingly childish games played in relationships, the film compels you to root for the protagonists by tugging at your heartstrings (OF COURSE) and taking you on a wild ride of thrill, ecstasy, disappointment, and then a slight hint of hope. Spoiler alert (!!!) but it concludes ambiguously, where your own interpretation of the movie ends up revealing much more about yourself than you knew. 10/10 better than Myers Briggs’, #justsayin.

Jeux d’enfants forces you to deal with certain clichés in the most beautiful and unconventional ways possible. Friendly and harmless banter between childhood friends turn into life-threatening dares the protagonists perpetually engage in, instead of confronting their feelings for each other. This continues into adulthood, and well…let’s just say that not actually having the audacity to talk about your feelings is definitely a terrible idea.

Fuck this. This Valentine’s Day, I’ll be ripping off five layers of band aids and digging straight into this old unhealed wound by rewatching the film. There’s a certain beauty in revisiting painful memories, a certain twisted or even masochistic pleasure. Better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved right? (KILL ME).

Denyse Chua
Pick: Down with Love

Fake your way to a good time this Valentine’s with a movie that has a title appropriate for the jaded singles out there and a cheesy enough plot so you lovebirds feel high and giddy on romantic feelings. It may have debuted in 2003, but Down with Love has more relevance today than that cash me outside girl – with a zinger soundtrack to match. A pastiche of popular sex comedies that were popular in 1950s Hollywood, this movie is everything we could ask for in a rom-com: cute baby-faced leads Ewan McGregor and (pre-2014) Reneé Zellweger who start out hating each other but eventually fall in love, a crazy-enough plot that we know will only happen in these movies, and a wardrobe that has more colours than Adobe’s colour picker – all while the honeyed voices of Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé croon in the background. Expect the expected with a few surprises sprinkled here and there, but none more surprising than how experienced chick-flick auteur Peyton Reed managed to recalibrate his directing energies for the Ant-Man franchise.

If the ending montage of La La Land was too much of a downer for you, this upbeat feel good movie will inject some optimism towards Love (and stir up a need for cuddles and hugs, you hopeless romantic).

Otherwise, well, your girlfriend is sure to like it.

P.S. this film is also on Netflix, so it’s a perfect way to end date night and chill. 

Pick: Candy

More than just an intangible idea you hear thrown about in Savage Garden ballads, weddings or whatnot, the physical manifestations of falling in love are recognisable to us all. You know, that feeling when your heart beats faster, your pupils dilate, your hands get cold and clammy and on some occasions, you get the shits real bad? Through the ages, commercial, religious and political institutions have mangled and marketed Love as a virtuous, almost lofty ideal, often dismissing the fact that love, as they say, is like a drug. 

But Candy isn’t just a film about drug abuse. Rather, the indulgence and excess that comes with drug addiction and love, for that matter. Following the highs, lows and the illusory magic of everything in between, Candy tells of a fairytale alliance between two die-hard romantics — Candy, a suburban sweetheart who falls for rogue poet, Dan. 

Of all the lovers I’d fawned over in my youth, not a single one could match up to the first time I got to experience a ride on the magic carpet – by a lake. I don’t remember bringing along any music, but the sound of rustling leaves and crickets resonated well enough for us to dance to all night long. That summer, I faded into oblivion, but goddammit, those were and will probably remain the best days of my life.

On hindsight, it wasn’t the most responsible period of my life, just as Candy is a film brimming with youthful ignorance. While Candy and Dan’s “the rest is noise” branch of self-absorption may have been the epitome of romance to me years ago, Dan’s painful decision at the end continues to blow me away each time. Perhaps I still have a lot to learn when it comes to romance, or perhaps this is simply a testament to how good Candy is. 

Fiona Wai
Pick: 500 Days of Summer

For someone with severe romantic notions, it may seem strange that my favourite V-Day flick is a post-modern love story with an agonising twist. Then again, that is exactly why I adore this film.

Unlike Hollywood’s usual glossy idealisation of love, 500 Days of Summer presents us the reality of an unrequited love – one that we’re all too familiar with. The story began not with how Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt) met Summer (Zooey Deschanel), but their devastating break up that landed him in depression. In an attempt to figure out what went wrong, Tom rummaged through memories of their relationship, only to realize that he really only loved the ideals of a soulmate that he selfishly projected on Summer.

I love that scene where Tom’s younger but more mature sister Rachel (Chloe Grace-Moretz) spits wisdom. “Just ’cause some cute girl likes the same bizzaro crap that you do, that doesn’t make her your soul mate.”

That’s right, gurl. Love is definitely more than shared interests and similar personality types. It’s nice to have a lot in common, but at the end of the day, I think it matters more to find someone who picks you despite all your mess-ups and mix-ups.

Pick: Like Crazy

I’m normally against frivolous celebrity crushing – nothing will come to fruition, and my emotional investment is but a scant commodity I painstakingly ration. So upon realisation of my growing envy towards her co-star Anton, I could only react with (initial) self-disappointment. Like Crazy has gifted me my first and only celebrity crush; there’s no hurry to rescue me from the quicksand that is the porcelain skin, the hypnotic eyes, the quaint Brummie accent, and the solid, soliiiiid acting chops of Felicity Jones.

Still licking wounds inflicted from perilous long-distance relationships in the past, Like Crazy more than tugged at my heartstrings, they become an entangled mess whenever credits roll. The two leads meet when one attends an exchange programme in the other’s home country, sporadically resuscitating their relationship with every reunion-departure cycle, tearfully making undoable promises from opposite ends of the world, and then toying dangerously with the possibility of moving on – as I watch on appreciatively with a been-there-done-that level of relatability.

My takeaway? While miscalculated love may often be temporary, the decisions and repercussions revolving them are certainly not. But to me, that is no tragedy; I remain deeply enamoured by the memories of previous loves, while staying optimistic for the one to show up in my life. All in good time, all in good time.

Happy Valentine’s to everyone.

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