13 Great Anti-Valentine’s Day Movies You Can Stream Right Now

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If you’re dating or married, Valentine’s Day can be a high-stress holiday: figuring out what to get your partner, how much is trying too hard, how much isn’t trying enough, where to go, what to do, what not to do, and whether this really is the right night to bring up that previously unmentioned lovechild. But if you’re, shall we say, between partners, February 14 is a miserable day indeed, an interminable blizzard of flowers and candy and bullshit. Who needs it? So if you’d like to shy away from the syrupy romantic fare typical of Valentine’s Day movie-watching, fear not; here are a baker’s dozen anti-romantic movies for your weekend wallowing (just click on the title link to stream them right now).

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The granddaddy of all “to hell with love” movies, and still possibly the nastiest of the bunch. Mike Nichols (making, shockingly, his directorial debut) brilliantly adapts Edward Albee’s searing play about a horror show of a married couple (played, voyeuristically enough, by horror show of a married couple Richard Burton and Liz Taylor) and their hellish evening of abuse and games-playing with a younger, not-quite-ruined-yet pair, played by George Segal and Sandy Dennis. (Streaming on Amazon Prime)

Closer

Nearly 40 years after Virginia Woolf (and 30-plus after the similarly scorching Carnal Knowledge, which, ugh, isn’t streaming anywhere), Nichols returned to the trenches of gender-based warfare with this biting adaptation of Patrick Marber’s play. The dynamics are similar: two men, two women, secrets, lies, and words as weapons. But Nichols has gotten even harsher (instead of mellower) with age, painting a portrait of four selfish, bitter narcissists who, if anything, deserve each other. (Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes)

Your Friends and Neighbors

Few filmmakers have taken as much interest in the battle of the sexes as writer/director Neil LaBute, from whom you could put together a fairly robust festival of abstinence-only flicks: his debut In The Company of Men, the startling The Shape of Things, last fall’s shocking Some Velvet Morning. But this is the most brutish picture on his resume, a sharp and scathing portrait of three men, three women, and the various ways in which they lie, deceive, pair off, and generally cut each other’s throats. Featuring Catherine Keener’s nastiest character (and that’s saying something) and a Jason Patric performance that will make your skin crawl — which is a compliment, sorta. (Available for rental or purchase on Amazon and iTunes)

Antichrist

Like Nichols and LaBute, Lars von Trier ain’t exactly Nora Ephron when it comes to the interactions of men and women, and his 2009 story of a married couple’s retreat to the woods to fix their marriage and get in touch with nature may be his most savage and unforgiving picture to date (a stiff competition, to be sure). Then again, maybe this viewer is still merely fixated on what Charlotte Gainsbourg does with those scissors. (If you’ve seen it, you’re welcome!) (Streaming on Netflix)

Last Tango in Paris

All anyone remembers is the sex — but even the groundbreaking eroticism of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 classic leans towards the oogy, once Brando starts in about the fingernails and the pig vomit and the bestiality. (And don’t even get me started on the butter scene.) But outside of the bedroom, Tango — while brilliant! — is an infinitely depressing examination of midlife crisis and sexual obsession, culminating in one of the more definitive rejections in movie history. (Streaming on Amazon Prime)

Audition

Dating: it ain’t easy, am I right? Still, there are less skeezy ways to meet the girl of your dreams than to set up a fake audition for a nonexistent movie — and yet even that infraction doesn’t quite warrant the punishment meted out by the would-be wife in the harrowing climax of Takashi Miike’s 1991 horror masterpiece, which could turn even the most confident social butterfly into a terrified shut-in. (Streaming free on Hulu and Amazon Prime)

The Rules of Attraction

What’s great about college is that there are so many options in the dating pool — thus ensuring that no one is actually into the same person who is into them. So it goes in Roger Avary’s 2002 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel, where a cast of astonishingly good-looking people spend two hours cheating, raping, rejecting, screwing each other over, getting high, getting blotto, and killing themselves. (Streaming on Netflix)

Blue Valentine

Director Derek Cianfrance approaches the best of Cassavetes with this gloomy portrait of the last days of a marriage — intercut, masterfully, with the cheerful early days of their union. The contrast is astonishing, and depressing; look how much they used to love each other, the movie assures us, and even they ended up in a cold, ugly, sexless, loveless marriage! A hard and unforgiving movie, but a brilliant and spectacularly acted one was well. (Streaming on Netflix)

Revolutionary Road

You’ve gotta admire the gumption it took for director Sam Mendes to reunite America’s favorite movie couple (Titanic’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet), and cast them in his woefully depressing adaptation of Richard Yates’ chronicle of a marriage in tatters. As with Blue Valentine, the salad days are seen in flashback, but to little avail; these two people are terrible for and to each other, resulting in a virtual PSA for the single life. (Available for rental or purchase on Amazon and iTunes)

Husbands and Wives

Yes, yes, it’s quite a tricky proposition to recommend a Woody Allen movie these days. But there’s no denying the power of this bravura 1992 drama, which plays (thanks in no small part to its vérité-style cinematography and structure) like a home movie chronicling Allen and Mia Farrow’s breakup — which happened literally while the film was in production (their withering onscreen breakup was a reshoot, done after the real thing had happened off-screen). The picture has a bitterness and anger rare for the Allen filmography — and his detractors will find plenty of ammunition in the rather alarming parallels between fact and fiction. (Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes)

The War of the Roses

Another portrait of the end of a marriage, played for the kind of laughs that stick in your throat. Director Danny DeVito reunited with his Romancing the Stone/Jewel of the Nile co-stars Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner for this pitch-black 1989 comedy, but they were no longer telling the breezy tale of lovers in the jungle; this time, they’re a married couple in the midst of a particularly vicious divorce, and willing to claw, cheat, and steal to come out on top. An admirably nasty little movie, with an ending that you still can’t believe they got away with. (Available for rental or purchase on Amazon and iTunes)

Fatal Attraction

Of course, Michael Douglas didn’t have much luck outside his onscreen marriages, either; most famously, his attempt at a kinky extra-curricular one-night stand in Adrian Lyne’s 1987 hit went a teeny tiny bit awry (stalking, pet deaths, bathtub murders, etc). War of the Roses is harsh enough to scare you right out of marriage, but Fatal Attraction will make you swear off casual sex altogether, and start googling for the nearest monastery. (Streaming on Netflix)

Frances Ha

Noah Baumbach’s 2013 treat isn’t nearly as mordant as the death, divorce, abuse, and depression-tinged titles elsewhere on our list, so maybe this is just an attempt to end on a slightly more pleasant note. But this may be the most quietly subversive Valentine’s Day viewing out there. Though it traffics in the tropes and trappings of the contemporary romantic comedy (sparkling photography, urban setting, witty dialogue, messy protagonist), it cleverly dodges the pitfall of so many films that fall into that classification: its title character isn’t looking for love, and the arrival (or even possibility) does not magically solve all of her problems. And isn’t that insight the best possible way to stick it to the movies on Valentine’s Day? (Streaming on Netflix)