Hollywood has always had a complicated relationship with Valentine's Day — after all, the industry released films called Valentine's Day and I Hate Valentine's Day within two years of one another. But whether you're a V-Day enthusiast with your heart on your candy-coated sleeve or a hater who'd rather see Cupid shot with one of his own arrows, we can all agree on one thing: There are plenty of great movies about couples who were absolutely awful together — and today of all days, we can all benefit from a little schadenfreude. So if you're in a relationship, be grateful it's not one of these disastrous onscreen pairings. And if you're not in a relationship, remember, it could always be worse:
1. Cobb and Mal (Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard) — Inception, 2010
What went right: Cobb and Mal have the life of their dreams — literally — as they live what feels like 50 years (but is actually about a day) in a "Limbo" they construct together. They also have two children, who spend a suspicious amount of time on the beach.
What went wrong: Cobb convinces Mal to return to the real world by using Inception to plant the idea that their fake world isn't real in her brain — an idea, unfortunately, that she carries into the real world, which leads to her suicide. The only remaining "Mal" is the manifestation of guilt that exists in Cobb's brain — a manifestation that has an unfortunate tendency to show up with guns blazing in an attempt to sabotage his missions. (Yes, it's a complicated movie.)
2. James Bond and Vesper Lynd (Daniel Craig and Eva Green) — Casino Royale, 2006
What went right: As he recovers from torture inflicted by the villainous Le Chiffre, 007 finds his cold heart melted by the beautiful Vesper Lynd. On reflection, Bond decides that being smashed in the groin with a carpet-beater a dozen times is a good reason to put his spying days behind him, as he turns in his license to kill and prepares to sail around the world with Vesper.
What went wrong: Alas, Bond discovers that Vesper is the bad kind of Bond Girl — albeit the conflicted kind — when he catches her delivering his millions in poker winnings to a representative of the villainous Quantum organization while vacationing in Venice. A conflicted Vesper locks herself in an iron cage as it sinks underwater, drowning before Bond can reach her. Bond is left angry and grief-stricken, without a single quantum of solace until the sequel, Quantum of Solace.
3. Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala (Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman) — Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005
What went right: Padme, the queen of the planet Naboo, first meets Anakin as a young boy on the planet Tatooine (which is actually sort of gross, but we'll let it slide). But as Anakin matures into the broody, sand-hating Jedi played by Hayden Christensen, the two fall in love, and are married in a secret ceremony witnessed by C-3PO and R2-D2.
What went wrong: Anakin is wooed to the dark side by the villainous Palpatine, who says he can prevent Padme's death. Unfortunately, he ends up inadvertently causing her death, after betraying the Jedi, slaughtering a bunch of younglings and Force-choking her into unconsciousness — which makes her die of a broken heart, and makes him becomes Darth Vader. Irony, George Lucas style.
4. Craig and Lotte Schwartz (John Cusack and Cameron Diaz) — Being John Malkovich, 1999
What went right: We meet puppeteer Craig Schwartz when his love for his animal-obsessed wife Lotte is already on the wane — but it's safe to say that his discovery of a portal that lets him occupy the body of actor John Malkovich (John Malkovich) for 15 minutes at a time opens up a new dimension to their relationship.
What went wrong: Craig and Lotte both use the Malkovich portal to seduce a beautiful woman named Maxine (Catherine Keener) while in Malkovich's body. Through a series of events far too convoluted to explain here, Maxine becomes pregnant after having sex with Malkovich while Lotte occupies his body, which makes her the mother/father of the child, Emily — a child whose mind imprisons Craig, who gets to spend the rest of his life watching Lotte and Maxine live happily ever after.
5. Douglas and Lori Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone) — Total Recall, 1990
What went right: Douglas Quaid is a mild-mannered American construction worker with an inexplicable Austrian accent who lives a peaceful, seemingly happy life with his beautiful wife Lori.
What went wrong: Doug visits Rekall, a company that promises to implant a memory that will make him believe he's had a vacation on Mars — only to discover that he's really a secret agent named Hauser who had his previous memories erased. The kicker? "Wife" Lori is an enemy agent dispatched to keep an eye on him, and she relentlessly hunts him down until he dispatches her with a bullet to the head and the immortal line, "Consider that a divorce."
6. Dan Gallagher and Alex Forrest (Michael Douglas and Glenn Close) — Fatal Attraction, 1987
What went right: It's your classic boy-meets-girl story, as self-absorbed business man Dan embarks on a weekend fling with Alex while his wife and daughter are away for the weekend. No way that could come back to haunt him, right?
What went wrong: In case you missed the title of the movie, the attraction does, indeed, turn out to be fatal. Alex stalks Dan, cooks his pet rabbit, abducts his daughter, and attempts to murder both Dan and his wife Beth with a butcher's knife, until Dan half-drowns her and Beth shoots her in the head. So no, not exactly a clean breakup.
7. Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen (Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb) — Sid & Nancy, 1986
What went right: Well, no one can deny the passion of the relationship between Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and groupie girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Shame about all that heroin, though.
What went wrong: There's a reason that the phrase "fighting like Sid and Nancy" has replaced "fighting like cats and dogs" in some circles. The self-destructive relationship destroys both Sid and Nancy's lives, first figuratively and then literally, as Sid ends up stabbing her — perhaps accidentally, perhaps not — and dying of an overdose shortly thereafter.
8. Jack and Wendy Torrance (Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall) — The Shining, 1980
What went right: Writer Jack Torrance takes a job as the winter caretaker of the vacant, off-season Overlook Hotel, which will give wife Wendy and son Danny a chance to explore the grounds — including an oh-so-fun hedge maze! — as dad works on his writing.
What went wrong: Unfortunately for all involved, the Overlook turns out to be haunted, and Jack goes insane, eventually attempting to murder Wendy and Danny with an ax. Wendy and Danny escape, and Jack freezes to death in the hedge maze — or maybe gets transported back to the 1920s? It's kind of a confusing movie.
9. Michael Corleone and Kay Adams (Al Pacino and Diane Keaton) — The Godfather, 1972
What went right: Michael and Kay are the picture of happiness at his sister Carla's wedding, as he explains his family's grim Mafia business while assuring her that he has no plans to be a part of it. Though he becomes embroiled in a scheme to retaliate for a murder attempt on his father, he returns from semi-exile in Italy, proposes to Kay, and promises to make the Corleone family legitimate within five years.
What went wrong: Michael does not make the Corleone family legitimate within five years — but he does murder a bunch of people and lie to her face about it, before one of his associates closes the door on her both literally and symbolically. Things don't exactly improve in the sequels.
10. John "Scottie" Ferguson and Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton (James Stewart and Kim Novak) — Vertigo, 1958
What went right: When an acquaintance asks detective "Scottie" Ferguson to follow his wife Madeleine, who he claims may be possessed by an identical-looking ancestor who committed suicide, the two develop a strange fascination with one another. The two proclaim their love for one another…
What went wrong: … until a seemingly possessed Madeleine leaps from a church bell tower, and Scottie's acrophobia prevents him from climbing to save her. Which makes it all the more surprising when he meets Judy Barton, a woman with an uncanny resemblance to Madeleine... who also falls to her death from the church bell tower.
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!
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