Tales from the Dark Side…Five Dark Love Stories – The Movies

Happy Almost Valentine’s Day!  Or maybe it isn’t.  If you’re experiencing the Dark Side of Love this Valentine’s Day, cheer up –it’ll be over soon.

In celebration of (or perhaps in retaliation against) all the love swirling in the air the next few days, here are my Top Five Dark Love Stories – The Movies.  Pop some popcorn, bust open the wine and be glad your love life isn’t anything like these movies:

Revolutionary Road
This is one of those sneaky movies.  You don’t realize just how searing it’s going to be until the end credits roll and you’re left in that darkened movie theater completely shredded by what you’ve just witnessed.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are stunning in this dark character study about the bonds of misery...er, matrimony.  Brilliant.

Doesn’t the title say it all?  Just like “Revolutionary Road,” this story illustrates how the only two people who know what goes on in a marriage are those two people – and sometimes not even them.  Richard Gere’s hapless husband has no idea wife Diane Lane is carrying on a torrid affair.  But when he finds out her dirty little secret, the results are tragic.  I don’t know about you, but I needed about five cocktails after this one.

Leave Her to Heaven
This Gene Tierney tale is a classic story about obsessive love.  Nobody, and I mean nobody will get in the way of her pursuit of Cornel Wilde.  I remember seeing this on TV back in high school and there is a scene of Gene Tierney sheathed behind a pair of sunglasses while she allows a helpless disabled boy drown.  She was pure ice as she watched him sink and all I could think was “that is one bad bitch.”  There are lots of movies out there about psychotic women and the men unfortunate enough to love them, but this is one of the first and one of the best.

Notes on a Scandal
While this may not be about love, it is most definitely about obsession.  Judi Dench is, of course, outstanding as the dowdy spinster school teacher desperate for a new best friend – having driven away the woman she’d previously tried to cast in the role with her domineering demeanor.  Enter the ethereal, clueless Cate Blanchett who welcomes Judi into her life, realizing too late she’s the fly to her spider. 

Dangerous Liaisons
Everyone is in fine form in this twisted saga of sex, deceit, jealousy and of course, love.  You have sadistic Glenn Close pulling everyone’s strings, a cynical John Malkovitch and a naive Michelle Pfeiffer undone by them both.   This is a sumptuous, richly layered movie that will haunt you long after it’s over.