Love is a Many Googled Thing

by Chiron O'Keefe

Like many, I'm a sucker for a great love story. Unlike most, I'm also bored and impatient with many a romance. Weird, I know. Sweeping sagas leave me yawning. Tender stories of romance often have me fidgeting in my seat. Sure, I watched Love Story. Once. Never again.

What hits me where it counts are stories that are somehow unique. Although I'll admit right off for a preference for romantic comedies, I also love a tale that tickles my curiosity. Makes me think, "What if…?"

With that in mind here are my picks for fave quirky love stories. Sweet, sensual, silly, or just strange.

Harold and Maude

Twisted, morbid and unbearably sweet, this flick was my introduction to quirky love stories. Produced in 1971 by Hal Ashby, and starring Bud Cort as Harold, a teenager obsessed with death who has a penchant for staging fake suicides, often timed to coincide with his mother's relentless attempts to fix him up with a 'nice girl'. When he meets Maude (played by Ruth Gordon) at a funeral, she introduces him to a world ripe with music and art. They fall in love much to the dismay of his conservative mother.

The two lovers can also be seen to represent the angst of youth—feeling lost and without purpose or meaning, as opposed to the heartfelt appreciation and deliberate optimism experienced by a generation who survived the horrors of the Depression and the Holocaust. Fascinating, tender and very, very strange.

The next film qualifies as weird and wonderful as well.

Truly, Madly, Deeply

Nothing can be more heartbreaking than the untimely death of the love of your life. It's no surprise such a tragedy would leave a person grief-stricken, paralyzed by sorrow and unable to let go and move on. When the ghost of her dead lover appears, Nina (Juliet Stevenson) is ecstatic. Their life together is not lost after all. What makes this film unique is how the eternal 'what if' is explored. What if your dead lover did return? He's a ghost, after all.

Jamie (the always brilliant Alan Rickman) is back but he's not flesh and blood. He also has friends. Dead ones. Who like nothing better than to plop their clammy ectoplasmic butts on the sofa and watch classic movies endlessly. This movie has heart, chuckles and more than a few tears.

Usually when people think of the movie Tootsie, the focus is on the fact that Dustin Hoffman Plays A Woman. *gasp!* What makes this eligible for the 'most unusual' list is the fact that the lead characters, Julie Nichols (played by Jessica Lange) and Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) fell in love while Michael was dressed up as the fictional Dorothy Michaels. Ever wonder if your mate would love you if you were someone else? Michael discovered she would, only problem is his intended mate is not a lesbian (which is convenient since he's not really a woman) and she has no clue who the heck Michael Dorsey really is.

Throw in the uproarious performances by Dabney Coleman as the ultra sexist director and boyfriend of Julie, the strange but wonderful Bill Murray, the sweet and inconvenient crush Julie's dad (Charles Durning) has on Dorothy, not to mention Terri Garr as the friend Michael coached for the role he then stole while dressed as Dorothy, and you have a madcap, screwball comedy wrapped around a tender love story. Brilliant!

Speaking of Bill Murray, he shines as Jeff Slater, the oddball writer who is Michael's (and Dorothy's) roommate:

Topping my list of quirky Love Stories is Lars and the Real Girl.

Ryan Gosling stars as Lars Lindstrom, a man who is socially dysfunctional. Unable to even join his brother and wife for a meal, he stays secluded in his garage until the day he brings his new girlfriend over to meet them. The one snag in his sudden and unexpected sociability is the fact that Bianca, his lady love, just happens to be a manufactured doll.

Although (Spoiler Alert) there is no happily ever after for Bianca and Lars, the journey of Lars is a different kind of love story. It's been said a good relationship isn't possible unless a person loves himself first. Otherwise all we end up doing is projecting expectations outward until our lover does or says something to shatter the illusion at which point we 'fall' out of love as quickly as we fell in. When one is so shy even casual interactions are impossible, the real relationship that needs to occur is with oneself. Yup. We have to love our self before we can love another. When Lars first brings his girl around, the reaction is as expected. People are appalled. Lars has finally cracked. However, a strange thing happens.

While Lars is on his own path to self-acceptance, others begin their own journeys. Our hero's sweet-natured acceptance of Bianca forces others to discover within themselves qualities of compassion and understanding previously unknown. In short, Bianca brings out the best in everyone and all who know her, come to love her. This is a love story that involves an entire community. In a weird way, Bianca is a healer who not only helped Lars to find himself, she opened the hearts and mind of everyone she encountered. I found this to be one of the best movies I've ever seen.

Now that I've shared a few of my top picks for quirky flicks, it's your turn. Which love stories did you find particularly unique?

--Chiron O'Keefe

Weekly Motivation for Writers at The Write Soul:


  1. "...all we end up doing is projecting expectations outward until our lover does or says something to shatter the illusion at which point we 'fall' out of love as quickly as we fell in."

    Uncanny, and something I think I really needed to read today. I loved Lars and The Real Girl, but had forgotten I'd seen it. Thanks for the refresher. I think I'll go and hire it to watch tomorrow.

  2. Yay - another Chiron post! I felt the same way about "Love Story" - it annoyed me. And I didn't like "Romeo and Juliet" - people were crying in the movie and that annoyed me - I couldn't get into it. "Harold & Maude" was wild, wasn't it? So different. I do love romantic comedies - too many to list here - but my favorites these days are the Diane Keaton ones like "Something's Gotta Give" and "Because I Said So."

  3. Oh, Chiron - LOVE your post! And your movie picks! "Truly Madly Deeply" is definitely up there for me. Jamie (Rickman) loved Nina (Stevenson) so much he came back from the dead to help her heal. Now that's LOVE! (and we know he brought his annoying friends with him for a reason ;) But that kind of love - is boundless, timeless, eternal. You know it's my favourite Minghella film.

    I think you've got the makings of an interesting workshop here for the next RWA! ;)

    I would also add "Lost in Translation" - not quite a love story but certainly a "something story".


  4. Hello Jé Maverick!

    Glad the words came at the right time for you. :-D It's lovely when the universe gives us just what we need to hear or in my case, to write!

    Lars and the Real Girl is such a lovely flick. Enjoy!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    --Chiron O'Keefe
    The Write Soul:

  5. Hey Kathy!

    You always make me smile, woman! Glad to hear I'm not alone in that. Sometimes I wondered if I was missing some vital 'woman' genes getting bored with classic romance. Just goes to show that we're all individual. *wink*

    Ooooh, I LOVE the movie "Something's Gotta Give". I've watched it repeatedly.

    Hubby: "Haven't you seen that already?"

    Me (snorting and giggling while watching): "Uh-huh."

    I haven't yet seen "Because I Said So" and now I'll be putting it on my list of movies to record. Woot! Thanks, my dear!


  6. Hi Jo-Jo!

    Ah, yes, "Truly, Madly, Deeply" was such an amazing story. He comes back to help her move on. Yes. THAT'S true love. Maybe they should put that in wedding vows.

    "And do you promise to return from the dead, if necessary, to help your one true love move on?"

    (murmurs ripple through the crowd)

    "I do!"

    A-hem. Now where was I?

    Oh, yeah, "Lost in Translation" is something else, eh? I heard Sophia wrote the movie with Bill Murray in mind. Just as Tina Fey wrote "30 Rock" with Alec Baldwin in mind. Too cool!

    Thanks for the suggestion for an RWA workshop. Hmmm... There's something to think about!

    As always, thanks for jumping in, dear Jo!!


  7. LOVE this post. Ohmigoodness Truly Madly Deeply. *swoon*

  8. I always love your posts, Chiron. Now I have to watch Truly Madly Deeply, never having seen it. I love love love Alan Rickman (Dogma's quirky, but not a love story) PS I Love You falls along those same lines, which I also loved. Elizabethtown was quirky and sweet. I highly recommend Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter, one of my alltime favs, and The Family Stone.

  9. Hey Chiron

    Loved your selection. Lars and The Real Girl airs on TV this weekend here, will make sure to catch it.

    Lol, never could stomach Love Story either. Romeo and Juliet, I watched because, ahem, Leonardo diCaprio was in there (remember I was a 14 or 15 when that one came out!)

    I agree with Cate - PS I Love You falls into the list for me, as well as Sweet November, which can be teary but it was really good because the characters were so flawed. A classic for me now is Love Actually and the recent one I discovered, He's Just Not That Into You.

    Gotta scour for Truly, Madly, Deeply. Love Alan Rickman!



  10. Great Post! I love "The Holiday" with Jude Law. It's so true that we can really be our own worst enemy when it comes to love. :)

  11. Leanna, I'm with you!!




  12. Aw, Cate, thanks so much!

    I loved "Elizabethtown" too. "The Family Stone" was awesome. I'll have to check out the others you mention. A recommendation from a Diva is good enough for me!

    "Truly" was my first introduction to Alan Rickman. How can we help but adore that guy? *grin*

    Thanks for jumping in!


  13. Hi Gillian!

    It really is true, isn't it? "The Holiday" was a fantastic flick! Jude Law was especially yummy and Jack Black did a great job too. I'm a huge fan of Kate Winslet too and Cameron Diaz always makes me smile.

    Now I'm thinking I need to watch that one again!

    Thanks for stopping by! :-D


  14. Hey Z!

    I loved "He's Just Not That Into You" too. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston did an amazing job--what a great subplot. Justin Long is so adorable, I'm always a fan of his.

    "Love Actually" is soooo good, I just put it in my Netflix queue to rewatch.

    I hope you find "Truly, Madly, Deeply"! It's a treasure. And "Lars" is so sweet, I just started rewatching it and couldn't stop. Which inspired this month's article. :-D

    Thanks for stopping by!


  15. I'm so bummed! Amazon says Truly Madly Deeply is no longer available on DVD except for (very expensive) used copies. Must be a popular item!

  16. Great post, Chiron! Sometimes, I suspect we may have been separated at birth...

    Harold and Maude is one of my husband's absolute favorite films. Truly, Madly, Deeply makes me tear up just thinking about it. Tootsie - another choke-up (but in a good way.)

    Did you ever see 1987's Bagdad Cafe? (sometimes referred to as Out of Rosenheim) Jack Palance and German actress Marianne Sägebrecht, as well as American actress CCH Pounder - hard to describe how wonderful this completely quirky film is. The German woman finds herself stranded in a desert town and begins a self-empowering relationship with painter Jack Palance.

    Another one that may be hard to find is a Canadian film, also from 1987 - a good year for quirky romances - called Life Classes by William MacGillivray. A single Cape Breton woman who loves to do paint-by-numbers moves to Halifax to have her child, and helps support them by being a nude model for life drawing classes. In the process she listens to the instructors and begins to leave the paint-by-numbers behind. She convinces her boyfriend to pose for her, and the romance builds from there.

  17. Cate, that's awful!

    Ugh, I hate when that happens. :-( I immediately went over to Netflix (with fingers crossed) and it only showed a 'save' status, which usually means not available.

    ARGH! Maybe we need to deluge TCM and see if they'll run it for us!

    I'll let you know if I ever find a copy.



  18. Hi Julia!

    I've wondered that too. *grin* I definitely have to check out Bagdad Cafe and Life Classes. Both sound wonderful! Time to revisit Netflix!!




Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you but hope you are a real person and not a spammer. :)

Popular Posts