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Unconventional Love Stories

Feb 03, 2013

When most people think about love, they envision the classic narrative that is often portrayed as girl meets boy, they fall in love and somehow live happily ever after. This predictable perspective of love is often set in an idyllic world that has few real life challenges. Although this romantic world is often entertaining, the unconventional love story, filled will failures, odd experiences and real life challenges, becomes a captivating and realistic alternative. The love story of the underdog, the unusual and the unlikely is one that continues to capture the imagination of viewers.

Human experience is filled with mistakes, similarly one key element of unconventional stories about love is that they embrace this fact and capture a non-traditional perspective of one of life’s most beautiful emotions. A recent film that captures real and unconventional love is ‘A Declaration of War’ by Valérie Donzelli. The narrative follows Romeo and Juliet’s relationship, from the first moment they meet to the birth of their child, and finally the struggle to deal with their son’s brain tumor. This film is far from the usual love story as it is born out of the protagonists’ pain and suffering. Even amidst the pain and turmoil they are experiencing, love blooms out of their struggle to support each other and their son. Their journey is as romantic as it is sad, however it finds a way to include elements of humor that allow the audience to love, laugh and cry throughout film. Framing love in such an unusual situation captures the attention of viewers and allows them to relate to the story no matter how bizarre.


By capturing unusual stories these types of films can create narratives that focus on love and real life experiences at the same time. The old adage that truth is stranger than fiction rings true with many of the films that endeavor to capture unconventional love at its best. ‘Freaks’ shows the perspective of a beautiful trapeze artist and the leader of a group of side-show performers. Made in 1939, the film offers one of the earliest snapshots of unusual love by using the circus and its unique characters as a vivid backdrop for this kind of unconventional storytelling. Another classic tale of unusual love is Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Lolita’, which was made in 1963 and features two characters that have many years between them and few common experiences. The film ends in heartbreak for the film’s protagonist Professor Humbert and shows that at times turmoil and tragedy can be more influential than the power of love. It goes without saying that relationships which are doom to fail provide a certain entertainment factor and are even more captivating when the tale of unconventional love can stand the test of time.

Creating strange and bizarre scenarios are part of the charm of films that explore strange attractions. It is within these weird worlds that the characters can live a love story that is significantly different than most. The film ‘Adam’ features a suitor who has Asperger’s Syndrome and his efforts to cultivate a relationship with his upstairs neighbour. This unique story is framed by the imagination of Adam who sees little division between thinking and acting. By creating a story that is filled with the limitless imagination of the protagonist, the relationship that follows is quirky, fascinating and moving. Adam is a non-typical character and as a result he helps create a narrative that deviates from normalcy; developing a unique and unconventional perspective of modern relationships.

Recent films have even challenged how viewers define love, by creating a humorous and even satiric take on relationships. One of the funniest perspectives of unconventional love is seen in the film ‘I Love You, Man’, which follows Peter Klaven on his journey to find a best friend. Filled with awkward situations and unusual characters the film gives audiences a glimpse into the world of men and the brotherly-love they can cultivate for each other. Another fun take on romance is the film ‘Paper Heart’, which is about a documentary on love. It follows two young comedians/actors who play themselves in the film, and try to cultivate a relationship while under the watchful eye of a documentary film crew. Blending together real life characters and a fictional storyline it creates a unique snapshot of love that is far from the classic narrative of boy meets girl.

What makes a film unconventional in its treatment of love and relationships is the characters and filmmakers’ ability to capture a story that is far from usual. By including dynamic protagonists and putting them in challenging situations, the result is a narrative that defies the conventional concept of love. The foreign and intriguing nature of these films is what attracts audiences as they are the inversion of ordinary. Additionally, by casting the underdog or outsider as a lead character, the film often reminds the viewer of the universal and strange nature that love can take. Providing these fresh perspectives, filmmakers move away from the conventional relationship and create something that is more compelling, accessible and authentic.

If you are looking for a narrative that is unusual in its exploration of love, relationships and everything in between, the films above should provide a good glimpse into the counterculture of love.

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