When Layla chooses the (ahem, wildly attractive) bad guy over the good guy, and finds herself unable to walk away from an abusive relationship, we can’t help but identify with her because writer/director Rebecca Johnson has taken care to show how Layla’s decision making is informed by both familial strains and a culture that celebrate hyper-masculinity.
But it’s the end of the film that delivers a powerfully shocking blow—one that will make you wholly relieved that your days of teenage love are (hopefully) far behind.—Shannon M. Wild Canaries Year: 2014 Director: Lawrence Michael Levine Flailing, waning coupledom sometimes resorts to practically anything to keep the romance alive: therapy, swinging, having a baby. A heart-on-sleeve ode to screwball comedies with a dash of Hitchcockian intrigue, Wild Canaries grounds some seriously dark hijinks in the anxiety and selfishness of a couple’s impending nuptials, using their fears of spending their lives with another insecure, difficult person to map out just how out of their depths they are in this whole real-life thriller scenario—or just how much romance needs a spirit of adventure and spontaneity to stay alive.
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It’s also sweet as hell without tasting treacly, a buoyant, joyful flick whose protagonist, uptight student Xavier (Romain Duris), is able to dodge his grim corporate future by heading off to Barcelona and staying in a house loaded with other, considerably less uptight students hailing from Italy, Belgium, England, Germany, Denmark, and Spain (obviously), who teach him how to unwind mostly just by passing through his orbit. That’s Not Us follows three couples—one lesbian, one gay and one straight—during a presumably carefree weekend full of memories, intimate moments and exploration.
You’re probably well-familiar with this kind of movie – “conventional career drone loosens up through socialization” is a pretty tried-and-true narrative framework, after all – but L’Auberge Espagnole has a breezy, unfussy earnestness that compliments its post-European Union identity.—A. Two have come to rekindle their sex life, while another couple grapples with how a prestigious grad program will force them hundreds of miles apart.
The Way He Looks Year: 2014 Director: Daniel Ribeiro Based on Daniel Ribeiro’s 2010 short I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone, the Brazilian drama The Way He Looks (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho) follows one teen’s ingenious coming-of-age story.
Consistency is at the center of Leo’s world, from weekly visits with his grandmother to the walk home from school with his best friend, Giovana.
Tough going to start with as you hear horror stories from the victims, though it ends on an uplifting note as a group of brave and resilient young women band together to support each other and make tangible changes.
In these strange, dark times we need all the love we can get—even if it’s in the form of fictional characters who can’t exactly love us back.
That’s Not Us is a fleeting and bare look into the lives of six twentysomethings as they fight growing older and growing apart to be the people—and couples—they fell in love with. All that violence, and it still managed to capture the sweetness of returning home, and reconnecting with the one that got away/the one you left on prom night.—Garrett Martin and Shannon Houston 47.
Breathe Year: 2014 Director: Mélanie Laurent Nothing’s more effective at shaking a teen out of their monotonous high school routine than the arrival of a new student. Save the Date Year: 2012 Director: Michael Mohan A keen observation of the transition from artsy hipsterhood to responsible adulthood, Michael Mohan’s Save the Date examines the difficulties young adults face considering grown-up phases like marriage when half of their parents have divorced.
For the third, the revelation that one of them doesn’t know how to ride a bike spurs a begrudging effort to grow together. Grosse Pointe Blank Year: 1997 Director: George Armitage A slick combo of dark comedy, romance and ‘80s nostalgia, Grosse Pointe Blank is almost a partner to star John Cusack’s later film, High Fidelity.
But while the serene backdrop seems like the perfect place to soften the blows of their difficult issues, the tension that boils may be enough to end each relationship altogether. Both are about lonely men rethinking their direction in life set to a great soundtrack, but only in Grosse Pointe Blank does John Cusack play a hitman who murders Dan Aykroydwith a television.
We know Layla’s desire—desperation, really—to fit in with the Brixton crowd is going to end badly, but Jessica Sula’s portrayal makes the character’s seemingly simple-minded moves feel completely relatable.