I feel so lucky that I’m engaged. Having been with my better half for over four years, we’ve both become accustomed to our respective likes and dislikes when it comes to movies. I’ll happily sit through a screening of The Vow, safe in the knowledge that I’ll pick watching The Raid or a horror without a complaint coming my way. It’s this simple give and take that makes us work.
Gone are the days when I had to toil over what film I’d inflict upon a new date. Would we go and see the latest scary movie in the hope she’d use my arm/hand/knee as a stress ball? No longer do I have to worry about taking her to see a comedy in the hope it doesn’t suck ass. I never again have to concern myself with putting on an art-house flick fearing I’ll be seen as a pretentious douche (she accepts that trait in me!)
But we’ve all been there.
“Fancy going to the cinema?”, you ask.
“Sounds good”, she says. “You pick.”
“Shit!” This decision could make or break things. Pick a good ‘un and, if she’s a film fan like yourself, she’ll trust you unequivocally from that point. Choose a car-wreck and there could be no way back.
Here I give you my top five films you should NEVER watch with a potential new boyfriend or girlfriend.
5) The Last Kiss (Dir. Tony Goldwyn, 2006)
Romantic dramedies may well sound like the perfect kind of film to take a new date to see, but Goldwyn’s under-rated little film should be avoided. Not because it’s shit. It’s not shit. It’s very good. But it could result in some on-the-spot questions.
The Last Kiss is a great relationship study of how one man reacts as his personal life starts to change. Michael (Zach Braff) is in a committed relationship with Jenna (Jacinda Barrett). Things seems to be going to plan. They both share the same ideals – they want to get married and have kids.
However, Michael suffers jitters when Jenna falls pregnant and he begins to wonder whether he’s really ready for the next logical step. His life is thrown further into turmoil when free spirit Kim enters his life. Michael makes a decision that has severe repercussions for himself those he loves most.
With a great cast – Casey Affleck, Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner co-star – The Last Kiss, from personal experience, can result in some awkward post-watch questioning that could make or break a budding romance. Still, it’s a great film, so maybe wait until date four or five before watching. You have been warned.
4) Antichrist (Dir. Lars von Trier, 2009)
Focusing on a grieving couple – Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg – Antichrist follows the man and woman as they attempt to get over the horrific death of their young son. After being admitted to hospital, the wife is brought home by her husband – a therapist – who is intent on treating her depression himself.
Heading off to a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere, their story is told in four chapters as they discover and explore the darker side of nature and the cruelty people in pain can inflict on each other.
A mind-fuck of epic proportions, Antichrist has some of the most jaw-dropping imagery in recent times while the human-on-human violence is something best avoided if you’re attempting to woo a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Put it this way, one scene in particular is so graphic in its depiction that it will ensure sex is off the menu for the foreseeable.
3) Irreversible (Dir. Gaspar Noe, 2002)
Nope, on-screen rape will never endear you to someone. In fact, they may be a little worried. Meanwhile, if you do make it past the date after watching this then you could struggle walking past a fire extinguisher without breaking into a cold sweat.
Following the violent rape of Alex (Monica Bellucci), her boyfriend and her ex-lover decide retribution is the only answer. Hiring two criminals to help find the rapist so they can exact their revenge, Irreversible unfolds in reverse-chronological order.
An examination of how destructive cause and effect can be, this film is a firm no-no if you’re in a new relationship.
2) Cop Out (Dir. Kevin Smith, 2010)
Starring Bruce Willis and the insufferable Tracy Morgan – seriously, can this guy not act without the need to scream every line like his co-stars are hearing impaired – Smith’s ‘comedy’ is about an NYPD cop whose valuable, and rare, baseball card is stolen by a memorabilia-obsessed gangster (yes, you’ve read that correctly).
Knowing that his only way of paying for his daughter’s upcoming wedding is by selling the card at auction, he enlists the help of his hapless partner to track down the thief and get back the card.
That, in a nutshell, is the wafer thin plot. Unfortunately, for a comedy to work it has to be funny. Cop Out isn’t. It’s possibly one of the worst comedies to have been released in the last 10 years. Devoid of any real laughter-inducing moments, it’s a painful reminder that director Smith is treading water as he lives off of past glories.
If you put this on, expect to be ignored the following day. But you’ll have no-one to blame but yourself.
1) Blue Valentine (Dir. Derek Cianfrance, 2010)
One of my top 10 films of 2011 – it was released in the UK in January last year – Blue Valentine must only be watched if you’re in a secure relationship. Cianfrance’s romantic-drama centres on a modern-day married couple and flits between time periods as we witness how they met, how their relationship blossomed until it ultimately collapses in on itself.
Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are both from broken homes but find kindred spirits in each other as they hastily throw themselves into married life. However, that young love soon becomes anger and resentment as the pair realise their respective pasts will have a serious impact on how they treat each other.
Blue Valentine is an unflinching look into a decaying relationship. It’s a bleak – but brilliant – experience and, honestly, painful to watch if you’ve ever been in a position where you know things are never going to work.
Furthermore, it’s heartbreaking purely because no one person is to blame for the demise and, on the whole, you find yourself siding with both parties at times. They do things you’ll agree with. They’ll do things you won’t be happy about. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a real couple, that’s how good the performances are.
Best leave this film for about a year or so if you’ve just started seeing someone new.