x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Films with feeling for your Valentine's day

Love, Actually, When Harry Met Sally or Revolutionary Road? How to choose the perfect film to watch this Valentine's Day, whatever your romantic situation.

The candles carefully arranged on the coffee table flicker flirtatiously. The plates, once piled high with your painstakingly crafted culinary preparations, now sit bare. The Barry White CD begins its fourth loop. The mood is absolutely perfect. The time to strike is now. You gently lean over. You grab the remote control. "DVD?"

Yes, that's right, it's Valentine's Day and it's the perfect opportunity to settle down with a film. Whether you're sitting all on your lonesome and need something to help you drown out the lovie dovie slush being fired in all directions, or you're with that special someone and want to show that you do indeed have a sensitive side, there's a film out there to suit your situation. But be warned, there are pitfalls, and titles that should be avoided. If you're wavering over your choice of viewing, then look no further than our guide to what to watch, and what not to watch, whoever you'll be watching it with.

  • Status: newly single and a tad, er, bitter

Do watch: Revolutionary Road

If you ever wanted to feel smug about being single, this is the film for you. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet slope from happiness to disappointment as their marriage quickly finds itself locked on the train tracks of misery down the cul-de-sac of life. By the end, you'll feel like fistpunching the air that you're free to follow your own dreams and not trapped by the monotonous reality of existence in a relationship destined for doom. Hurrah!

Don't watch: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Memories, we've all got them (although granted, some have them better than others). But what if you could erase the memories of your previous relationship to avoid all that pain? That's what happens to Jim Carrey in this tale by Charlie Kaufman. While it's an absolutely splendid film, you'll probably end up staring at photos of "happier times" and sobbing. Loudly.

  • Status: just good friends?

Do watch: When Harry Met Sally

An obvious choice, but one that should clearly show him or her that there's no point wasting any more time with this whole "friends" nonsense. It's light, it's funny and, unless you've decided to wear themed 1980s outfits, both of you will probably be better dressed than Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. However, to avoid any awkward situations, you might want to take a toilet break during the café scene.

Don't watch: Gigli

Widely regarded as the film most people would like wiped from human memory (should the Eternal Sunshine thing actually exist) this diabolical bomb sees Ben Affleck team up with his then girlfriend Jennifer Lopez to kidnap some dude's son. They may get together in the end, but rest assured you'll end up alone, with your companion no doubt having either received "an important text message" or suddenly remembering they've left the cooker on at home shortly after the opening credits.

  • Status: in first-flush lovebirds

Do watch: Love, Actually

Couples spring up left, right and centre in this comedy that should raise a smile from your other half (and if not, then they're probably dead inside and not worth worrying about). Almost every character either finds the person of their dreams or stays with the person of their dreams, and all with hilarious consequences on the snowy streets of London. By the end, your companion will be so relieved that they're in a relationship that you could probably give them a box of chocolates from Adnoc and get away with it.

Don't watch: Annie Hall

While Woody Allen and Diane Keaton start this comedy together, which is all very good, they end up very much apart (like, living in different cities apart). Chronicling their failed relationship over several years through a series of flashback vignettes, this landmark film might have made Allen, but it could spell the end for your new romance, inciting arguments, reconciliations and the inevitable realisation that you're both just fundamentally different. And yes, that could all happen in one night.

  • Status: smug marrieds

Do watch: Date Night

Don't worry if routine and monotony have begun to slip into your relationship, because this comedy will help explain that, while the spark might not be there, you can still have a wild time nonetheless. Tina Fey and Steve Carell become unwittingly involved in an evening of mobsters, stolen flash drives and blackmail, and all because they wanted a night out. It's all fairly ridiculous, but should help you both believe that all manner of adventure can result from the most mundane of activity. Even the washing up.

Don't watch: The Seven-Year Itch

Monroe's famous dress-over-the-New-York-subway-grate scene doesn't disguise the fact that this timeless classic is all about straying away from your lengthy relationship and into the arms of a younger model. Although nothing actually happens and the fling with Monroe's flirty blonde bombshell exists largely as a series of increasingly imaginative flights of fancy by the male lead, it won't stop your other half from worrying that you're getting bored with everything and looking for somebody else. Avoid.