Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence looking at one another in Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

15 Romance Movies With Unconventional Storylines

Want a romantic movie that's not the same old love story you've seen a hundred times? Here are 15 films that take a look at love, but not in the ways you might expect.

The Age of Adaline (2015)

Michiel Huisman and Blake Lively in The Age of Adaline (2015)
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera – © 2015 – Lionsgate.

Starring Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, and Harrison Ford, this romantic movie tells the tale of Adaline Bowman, a woman who stops aging after a mysterious accident in the 1930s.

Throughout the decades, Adaline keeps her condition a secret, leading a solitary life to avoid scrutiny. However, her carefully constructed world is shaken when she meets a charming man named Ellis Jones, who threatens to expose her secret. The film explores themes of love, identity, and the passage of time.

The Lobster (2015)

John C. Reilly and Colin Farrell in The Lobster.
Photo Credit: Picturehouse Entertainment.

Set in a dystopian world, this dark romance film presents a bizarre ultimatum for singles: find a partner within 45 days or transform into an animal.

The film features a distinctive visual style, deadpan humor, and thought-provoking commentary on human relationships.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Photo Credit Focus Features.

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star in this mind-bending love story. After a painful breakup, they undergo a procedure to erase memories of each other.

The thought-provoking narrative explores themes of love and loss, memory, and the human condition.

500 Days of Summer (2009)

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer.
Photo Credit Fox Searchlight Pictures.

This unconventional romantic comedy-drama jumps back and forth in time, dissecting the relationship between Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel). It portrays the true messiness of real-life relationships.

Her (2013)

Joaquin Phoenix and Olivia Wilde in Her (2013).
Photo Credit Warner Bros. Picture – © 2013 – Untitled Rick Howard Company LLC.

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely and introverted man going through a divorce, who develops a romantic relationship with an advanced artificial intelligence operating system named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).

The evolving relationship between humans and technology feels especially relevant with recent developments in AI.

Before Sunrise (1995)

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise (1995).
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

A chance encounter on a train leads to a passionate night for Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) when they disembark in Vienna and spend the night walking and talking through the city streets. 

The film looks at love, connection, and the transient nature of relationships as Jesse and Céline form a deep bond over the course of a single night.

Amélie (2001)

Audrey Tautou in Amélie (2001).
Photo Credit: © 2001 – Miramax.

Amélie (Audrey Tautou) is an imaginative young woman who decides to bring joy to others through small acts of kindness.

Amélie is charming, quirky, and enchanting.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) 

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook.
Photo Credit: 2012 – The Weinstein Company

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star as two emotionally troubled individuals who form an unlikely bond. Their unconventional courtship involves dance competitions, family dynamics, and mental health struggles.

Lost in Translation (2003)

Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray sitting in a restaurant.
Photo Credit: Yoshio Sato – © 2003 Focus Features

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play two lonely souls who meet in a Tokyo hotel. The film brings up the untethered feelings that can arise during life transitions, as well as the sweetness of finding a connection when you feel lost and alone.

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) 

Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos in Blue is the Warmest Color.
Photo Credit: © 2013 – Sundance Selects

This French film is a coming-of-age story about the intense relationship between Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and Emma (Léa Seydoux).

Based on a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, the movie captures the passion, heartache, and self-discovery of their relationship. It won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 but also sparked controversy due to its explicitness and the way lesbianism was portrayed.

In the Mood for Love (2000)

Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai in In the Mood for Love.
Photo Credit: 2000 – USA Films

Set in 1960s Hong Kong, this visually stunning film follows two neighbors who suspect their spouses of infidelity. The film is renowned for its lush cinematography, evocative music, and poignant exploration of love, longing, and missed opportunities.

Moonlight (2016) 

Moonlight Movie poster.
Photo Credit: A24

This Oscar-winning drama chronicles the life of Chiron (played by three different actors at different ages) as he grapples with identity, sexuality, and love.

La La Land (2016)

Couple from La La Land in a movie theater.
Photo Credit: Lionsgate.

While paying homage to classic Hollywood musicals, this modern romance takes unexpected turns. The story follows Mia, an aspiring actress played by Emma Stone, and Sebastian, a jazz musician played by Ryan Gosling, as they pursue their dreams in Los Angeles. 

The film received critical acclaim and won multiple awards, including six Oscars.

Before Midnight (2013) 

Couple played by Ethan Hawke and  Julie Delpy looking at one another over dinner.
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

The third installment in the “Before” trilogy, this film reunites Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) in Greece. Their conversation continues to be raw and realistic, giving audiences an unconventional look at the complexities of long-term relationships, with Jesse and Celine confronting the challenges of maintaining love and passion amidst the realities of everyday life.

Carol (2015)

Cate Blanchett in 1950s style dress walks towards camera.
Photo Credit: StudioCanal.

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star in this 1950s-set love story. Watch this film for a story about forbidden love, societal expectations, and the struggles faced by LGBTQ individuals during that time period. Carol was nominated for numerous awards, including several Academy Awards.

11 Movies That Surprisingly Stole Our Hearts Despite Zero Expectations

Cabin in the Woods(2011)
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Sometimes, you start watching a movie having no idea what you're in for and wind up discovering a new favorite.


Author: Alissa Zorn

Title: Trauma-Informed Coach

Expertise: childhood emotional neglect, perfectionism, parenting, journaling, comics, doodling, coaching

Alissa Zorn is the founder of She's a trauma-informed coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa has been featured on the Good Men Project, Wealth of Geeks, Motherly, and more.