The ‘Toban staff’s romantic Valentine’s Day movie picks

Films romantic, thoughtful and blue for Valentine’s Day

Before Sunrise (1995)

Before Sunrise, the first in Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy, follows Jesse and Céline, two 20-somethings, as they start to chat on a train in Europe. 

The film is in large part just documenting their conversations. There’s very little plot to speak of and yet, what unfolds between these two as they get to know each other is a hypnotic, textured and tender budding romance that is, above all, so human. 

Romcoms tend to over-indulge in depictions of love that aren’t really complicated. 

Maybe some external pressure threatens to form a rift between two lovers, but once this single roadblock is smoothed out, the happy couple skip off into their happily ever after. 

Romcoms rarely capture the fundamental flaws in people that can make sustaining a loving relationship so difficult. 

But Sunrise’s view of love is clear-eyed, showing just as many of Jesse and Céline’s faults as their charms. What we find is less a celebration of perfect love and more a loving view of human interaction and connection, warts and all. 

Before Sunrise won’t make you feel lonely for being alone and it will teach you there’s powerful poetry in day-to-day life.

—Jessie Krahn, comment editor

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

If you’re looking for a bizarre and beautiful exploration of love, look no further than Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Everything Everywhere All at Once. The film proposes love as something bizarre, overwhelming and essential. 

A little different from your usual Valentine’s flick, in the film Evelyn, portrayed by Michelle Yeoh, learns to connect her consciousness into alternate versions of herself living different lives in an attempt to aid in a battle against a chaotic entity known as Jobu Tupaki, portrayed by Stephanie Hsu.

During this mind melding, universe hopping, sci-fi experience the characters find themselves searching for a meaning to life: they discover love. 

Ke Huy Quan’s character Waymond, Evelyn’s husband, acts as the heart of the film, contributing iconic quotes to the film such as, “When I choose to see the good side of things I am not being naive. It is strategic and necessary.”

Everything Everywhere All at Once proposes that sometimes the meaning of life is to find the people you would choose to be with despite all the other places in the universe you go. Sometimes love is doing your laundry and taxes.

—Alison Holliday, arts reporter

The Perfect Match (2016) 

The Perfect Match directed by Bille Woodruff, is a timeless choice for those intrigued by the dynamics of romance. 

Starring Terrence Jenkins as Charlie, a self-professed playboy resistant to long-term commitments, the film takes an unexpected turn when he encounters the enchanting and enigmatic Eva, portrayed by Cassie Ventura.

Behind the facade of a carefree playboy, the plot takes a poignant turn when Charlie, initially resistant to commitment, discovers that he has fallen in love with Eva, however she is something of a “playboy” herself. 

This revelation adds a profound layer of depth to the narrative, exploring themes of honesty, communication, and diverse perspectives on relationships.

 As the story unfolds, the audience is invited to think about the subtleties of love and the transformative power of unexpected connections.

The Perfect Match promises an engaging and entertaining experience. 

So, why not embrace the spirit of the season and treat yourself to a cinematic exploration of love’s many dimensions. Grab your popcorn, settle in and let this film be your companion this Valentine’s Day.

—Ebunoluwa Akinbo, photo editor

Avatar (2009)

Arguably famous deep-sea explorer and film director James Cameron blessed us with the bluest love story ever told. 

In 2009, the moviegoing public was given the gift of Avatar. The love story is between the colonizer Jake Sully in his titular avatar and Neytiri, an Indigenous Na’vi woman.

Despite initially being tasked with spying on the Na’vi so Jake could aid in genocide, our hero comes to really like being a blue alien. 

Jake Sully spends an extended period with the Na’vi he was tasked to help exploit and learns their language and ways while falling in love with their profound alien culture which is not at all based on Indigenous cultures. 

Jake also falls in love with Neytiri, and their love is consummated by playing with each other’s hair.

Avatar’s bizarre hair sex is kind of gross, but who can deny the moving love story of a soldier and the lady who saves him from big panther-like monsters. 

—Braden Bristow, columnist