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Top 10 Unconventional Romance Movies

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Love can bloom from very unexpected places. For this list, we’ll be going over the films that defy the conventions of typical romantic films, or lie outside of it entirely, yet still have compelling romantic themes. We won’t be including any animated films, though, as cute as romances like “WALL-E” are. Our list includes Harold and Maude, Edward Scissorhands, Lars and the Real Girl, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Punch-Drunk Love, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Unconventional Romance Movies.

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Top 10 Unconventional Romance Movies

Love can bloom from very unexpected places. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unconventional Romance Movies.

For this list, we’ll be going over the films that defy the conventions of typical romantic films, or lie outside of it entirely, yet still have compelling romantic themes. We won’t be including any animated films, though, as cute as romances like “WALL-E” are.

#10: “Edward Scissorhands” (1990)

Starring Johnny Depp as the titular artificial man with bladed fingers, “Edward Scissorhands” is a love story between Edward and Kim, the teenage daughter of the family who takes him in. Edward’s gentle soul and surprising talents win over Kim, and some of her fellow townsfolk, though his appearance earns him suspicion and fear from some. Full of director Tim Burton’s signature blend of darkness and whimsy, and featuring a bittersweet conclusion, “Edward Scissorhands” will cut straight to the core of even the most hardened cynic’s heart.

#9: “Harold and Maude” (1971)

Speaking of grim love stories, the romance between the title characters of this film is rather bleak, yet also surprisingly hopeful. Harold is a morbid young man obsessed with death, while Maude is an elderly woman who lives life to the fullest. Their unusual love affair is very unique for the genre, both because of their age gap, and for the dark sense of humor that pervades the movie. Maude ultimately shows Harold the value of living and loving while you can, and that’s an important lesson for everyone.

#8: “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010)

Few movies have taken the phrase “fight for your love” and run with it quite as much as this film. Based on a graphic novel series, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” follows its eponymous protagonist as he is forced to do battle with his new love interest Ramona’s seven evil exes in order to date her. With its flashy presentation and kinetic fight scenes and direction, this film is certainly atypical, though it does have quieter romantic moments too. All in all, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is a whirlwind of a good time that will sweep you off your feet like many good loves do.

#7: “The Fountain” (2006)

Told across several time periods, roughly in the past, present, and future, “The Fountain” follows three men and three women all played by the same two actors as they each struggle with love in the face of mortality. Although not always easy to follow (we’d certainly be hard-pressed to explain it in full), “The Fountain” touches on universal concepts of love, both in how fleeting it is and its ability to endure beyond death. Tragic, touching, and beautifully shot, “The Fountain” can be challenging, but it’s a “fount” of great experiences.

#6: “Lars and the Real Girl” (2007)

Lars is a withdrawn man who is afraid of others, particularly being touched. When he buys and “marries” a lifelike sex doll, platonically, his family and neighbors are understandably concerned. Yet, his relationship with “Bianca” allows Lars to come out of his shell and become more open with people, including a real girl. “Lars and the Real Girl” is more of a character study than a romance, but its subtle, and very sweet love story is still worth watching. Besides, sometimes the most important step towards romance is learning to trust and love others at all.

#5: “Warm Bodies” (2013)

Death and zombification can’t stop love. “Warm Bodies” follows a zombie named R, who retains his human awareness, as he falls for a human girl named Julie, while gradually coming back to life. A different approach to both the love and the zombie genres, this film takes familiar tropes, such as two lovers on opposite sides of a conflict, and offers a unique, horror-themed spin on them. Hilarious, creepy, and sweet in equal measure, “Warm Bodies” is sure to tickle your funny bone and get your own heart beating again too.

#4: “Her” (2013)

You can’t help who you fall in love with, and Theodore Twombly falls for a most unusual… person. The introverted divorcee comes to have feelings for the intelligent verbal computer operating system. Their voice-only relationship is quite extraordinary and feels remarkably authentic, thanks to great performances by both leads, and the film itself explores themes of human connection and relationships that feel quite relevant in the modern digital age. The dulcet and probably prescient tones of “Her” are thought-provoking and are absolutely worth listening to.

#3: “Punch-Drunk Love” (2002)

Adam Sandler has appeared in plenty of romantic comedies, but none of them have been quite like this one. “Punch-Drunk Love” follows Barry, a lonely man beaten down by his overbearing sisters and desperate for connection. However, when he does finally make a connection, it is soon jeopardized by men trying to extort him for money. Off-beat, melancholy, and quietly funny, “Punch-Drunk Love” is a different take on the usual romantic comedy, thanks to acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson’s slick direction and a more understated performance by its star.

#2: “(500) Days of Summer” (2009)

Chronicling the length of time architect turned greeting card writer Tom is in a relationship with the titular woman, “(500) Days of Summer” may appear to be a typical romantic comedy on the surface, but it subverts many of its tropes. Told in a nonlinear fashion and featuring a strange musical sequence, the film also has an unconventional ending that’ll speak to anyone who’s been in a relationship where the levels of emotional investment and communication weren’t equal. If you’re looking for a romantic film that’s more reflective of reality, you can’t go wrong spending 500 days, or less, with this movie.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Ex Machina” (2014)

“Once” (2007)

“The Science of Sleep” (2007)

#1: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

Love has a way of playing tricks on our memories, but this is something else entirely. Joel meets Clementine on a train… at least that’s what we’re initially led to believe. After the couple breaks up, Clementine pays to have her memories of Joel erased. Joel decides to do the same, but soon finds that he’s not ready to let go of Clementine just yet. Mind-bending, beautifully directed, and heartbreakingly romantic, “Eternal Sunshine” will open your mind and your heart to new possibilities, while entertaining you to boot. What’s not to like?

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