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Best Films of Unrequited Love


As much as I have probably exaggerated it in my mind, the theme of unrequited love was a constant in my early dating years.  Starting in the 7th grade when I had a crazy, mad crush on Brent, but his best friend Matt had a crush on me, and Brent wasn’t the slightest bit interested in me.  It started of pattern of my liking the wrong guy, and the wrong guy liking me.  Ah, the tribulations of junior high.  This theme was only reinforced by my adoration of British literature and old movies.  Either couples that were meant to be were not ending up together, or someone loved someone who didn’t love them back.  By the age of 15,  I was beginning to think two people falling in love wasn’t possible.

Last year I wrote about my favorite films of unrequited love.  People were quick to remind me of theirs, so I decided to expand the list for all the hopeless romantics out there (ahem, me).  So here is a new and improved list, building on the last one (because I still have a soft spot for My Best Friend’s Wedding and Four Weddings and Funeral), with great unrequited love stories.


1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

If you didn’t bawl reading the final Harry Potter book upon discovering Severus Snape’s long-held and tragic love  for Lily Potter (Harry’s mother who died protecting him), you have no heart.  Okay, maybe you have a heart. But I actually left tear-stains in my book.  For a character, whom we had seen show almost no emotions of remorse or love, and then to see he had devoted himself to protecting Harry for Lily was heartbreaking – especially when portrayed by the uber-talented, Alan Rickman.  The memory scenes and the flashbacks are touching.  It’s also a reminder that loving someone who doesn’t love you back totally sucks.

2. 500 Days of Summer

The “Expectations vs. Reality” scene in this movie almost perfectly sums up what it feels like to like someone who doesn’t like you back.  It’s especially awesome when set to Regina Spektor music and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  When Gordon-Levitt (recently broken up with Summer, Zooey Deschanel’s character) still pining for Summer, goes to her party expecting some sort of reconciliation – the reality is heartbreaking.  This movie is adorable, has a kickass soundtrack, and proves that 1) Deschanel can rock a 50’s inspired dress like no other and 2) there is always room for a Hall & Oates number.

3. St. Elmo’s Fire

An oldie but a goodie, right? This 80’s brat pack classic is a hot mess of unrequited love, which one do we choose?  Kirby (Emilio Estevez) is still in love with some older girl from college.  He runs into her years later, throws an elaborate party to impress her, so when she doesn’t show he steals his friends’ car and stalks her to her cabin where she’s having a romantic weekend with her boyfriend. Then there is nerdy Wendy who has been in love with Rob Lowe’s hot mess Billy character forever. They finally do it, only to have him move to LA. Andrew McCarthy has been pinning for his best friend’s girlfriend so long, he’s pathetic. Anyway, the whole movie seems to celebrate unrequited love and how fucked up dating and love is in your early 20’s. It must be no surprise that I used to be obsessed with this movie.

4.  The Painted Veil

Leave it to W. Somerset Maugham to make unrequited love so tragic.  In this film adaptation of his novel, Ed Norton plays the bookish doctor, Walter, who foolishly falls in love and marries the spoiled, vain (and soon to be adulterous) Kitty.  As punishment, Walter takes them into cholera-ravaged China (that’s what you get when you cheat on your husband who is an expert in infectious diseases).  Walter still loves his wife but is quite unforgiving about that whole adultery thing.  Trust me, being stuck in rural China during a cholera outbreak in the 1920’s is definitely a lesson-learner. But it’s a beautiful (and lucky for my obsession) heartbreaking story.


5. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

It’s hard not to have a crush on Viggo Mortenson, well, in this movie he is sexy Aragorn. So it’s hard to blame fierce and loyal Eowyn (Miranda Otto) for getting all moony and flirty when he’s around.  Sadly Aragorn is in love with his elven-hottie Arwen (Liv Tyler).  Even though Eowyn is a badass on the battlefield, brave and beautiful; it’s hard to compete when the other woman (Arwen) gives up her people not just for life, but for eternity in return for the uncertain fate of mankind, and the love of mere mortal Aragorn. Heavy stuff. Then again, Aragon/Viggo is pretty awesome.  Poor Eowyn.


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