Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl overcome the odds and end up together. That’s the common recipe for movie couples. But not everyone gets a happily ever after. Instead the credits roll with the couple going thier separate ways. These are the romantic interests we spend the entire movie rooting for but ultimately are left with a love that almost was. These are not tragic, star-crossed lovers torn apart by death but rather couples, who for one reason or another, ultimately cannot be together.
8. Up In The Air – Ryan and Alex
In Up in the Air George Clooney plays bachelor Ryan Bingham, who’s consumed with his job and doesn’t believe in marriage or love. He’s constantly in and out of airports and utterly without emotional ties to a place or a person until he meets Alex. Alex, like Ryan, lives her life in airports. The two meet and eventually begin to sleep together. With each encounter, Ryan’s walls slowly come down, and he begins to open up to the idea of love and commitment. When he finally realizes that he wants that emotional tie he goes to Alex’s home where he’s greeted by her children. Yes, Alex is a married mom leaving Ryan rejected on her doorstep. Even though she’s rejected him, Alex did help break down Ryan’s walls. But the two couldn’t be together.
7. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight – Bruce and Rachel
If you had the option to pick between a billionaire superhero or a Congressman, who would you choose? Rachel in the Christopher NolanBatman series chose the latter. Through two movies, audiences watched as Bruce Wayne pined for his childhood love Rachel, struggling with his feelings for her and the responsibility he’s undertaken as Batman. When finally faced with the ultimatum, Rachel chooses Harvey Dent instead of Bruce Wayne. She lets Bruce know her decision in a letter, but it never reaches him. When she dies tragically at the hands of the Joker, Bruce’s butler Alfred decides not to deliver the letter, leaving Bruce to believe that if Rachel was still alive they’d be together.
6. Blue Valentine – Dean and Cindy
Blue Valentine is an emotional roller coaster that frankly can make you stop believing in love. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Willams play a married couple whose marriage is slowly falling apart. The entire movie shows flashbacks to how they were once in love and how Gosling’s character would do anything for Williams’. By the end of the movie, you’re rooting for the couple to fix their martial woes and be that once-fun-loving couple you got to know. Sadly, that’s not to be.
5. Annie Hall – Alvy and Annie
Woody Allen’s Annie Hall is a hilarious look at why couplehood ultimately ends. Alvy and Annie are opposites who work, kind of. Annie is a free spirit who enjoys pot, while Alvy is a man of many neuroses. Audiences watch as the couple fall in love, move in and then ultimately break up. Comparing their couple to that of a shark, their relationship has stopped moving. In the end, audiences are left watching this almost-couple through a window of a coffee shop on the street, with Allen coming to the realization, in a voiceover, that relationships are like eggs. Relationships are irrational and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need eggs.
4. Lost In Translation – Bob and Charlotte
Two people, both in unhappy relationships, find themselves sitting in a bar in Tokyo. One an aging movie star trapped in an unhappy marriage and the other an ambitious young woman who just can’t seem to find her place in the world. The relationship of Bob and Charlotte in Lost in Translation blurs the line between friendship and romance. When they’re together they feel needed and important, but both are in committed relationships. The entire movie is built on a will-they-or-won’t-they, leading up to the ending. Bob whispers something into Charlotte’s ear and the two go their separate ways. No one knows what’s said, but you’re left to assume they’ll never see each other ever again. Guess they’ll always have Tokyo.
3. Almost Famous – Russell and Penny-Lane
He is a “golden god” and she is the lead band-aid. Almost Famous’ Russell and Penny-Lane have a complicated relationship, to say the least. She’s devoted to him, and he needs her for his music. A self-indulged rock star, Russell treats her as just a groupie, denying his true feelings for her. When Russell’s wife enters into the picture, Penny-Lane is tossed aside like yesterday’s garbage. By the time Russell finally gives into his true feelings, it’s too late. Penny-Lane has realized that she deserves better and has hopped on a plane to Morocco, leading Russell to mend his relationship with the young journalist he’s wronged. Still, you can’t deny the passion the two had for each other, even if Russell was to blind to see it.
2. 500 Days of Summer – Tom and Summer
It was a story of boy meets girl, but as the audience was forewarned in the beginning, it was not a love story. 500 Days Of Summer’s Tom and Summer are the perfect example of the undefined relationship. Tom, the hopeless romantic in love with a cynic who wants nothing more than his company. Even knowing that the two aren’t destined to be together, one is still left hoping that Summer will change her mind in the end. No, it was not a love story; it was a story of complications caused by love.
1. Casablanca – Rick and Ilsa
Rick and Ilsa were two people who shared a love so deep that it haunted them forever. Their romantic tryst in Paris left Rick a damaged man running a gin joint in Casablanca. He’s done everything to forget the pain and lost love of Ilsa, even banning their song “As Time Goes By” in his club. One day, Ilsa walks back into Rick’s life, only she’s not alone. She’s married and on the run with her husband. Their feelings of love and lust return and the two lovers share tense moments upon seeing each other again. By the end, Rick sends his one true love back to her husband on a plane, knowing he’ll never see her again. Rick and Ilsa’s love is the Holy Grail of a love story never meant to be.