The tangled love triangle is such a cinematic trope that we could probably put together a list for everyÂ yearÂ (or a list of Top 10 love triangles with bad â80s haircutsâŚ or Top 10 love triangles starring Reese WitherspoonâŚ). We decided to limitÂ thisÂ list to love-triangle films we actuallyÂ enjoyedÂ (and not in a guilty-pleasure kind of way) â which is why you wonât find the Bella-Edward-Jacob affair here, despite the ubiquity of âTeam Edwardâ and âTeam Jacobâ merchandise. Same goes for PEARL HARBOR (2001), which attempted to make the love triangle a heroic response to war; or WILD THINGS (1995), which accessorized the love triangle with hot tubs and champagne (and was really more of a lust triangle, anyway); or INDECENT PROPOSAL (1993), which theorized the love triangle as a financial and real estate decision; or MY BEST FRIENDâS WEDDING (1997), which was a terrible movie despite championing off-key karaoke.
10. Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN (2001)
This is one of those rare love triangles that has something for everyone, whether youâre an indiphile, an unabashed lover of weepie romances, a subtitles-only film snob, or an avid consumer of soft-core porn. And the guy-on-guy action is a pleasant surprise for straight women (and gay men) who like to roll their eyes at the champagne-and-hot-tub, two-girls-and-a-guy love triangles that are a Hollywood favorite. Itâs rare for on-screen sex to be both realistic and scorching hot, but this movie, er, nails it.
9. THE DREAMERS (2003)
Leave it to Bernardo Bertolucci to add a hint of incest to the classic love triangle. Set in Paris (of course it is), this film tells the story of an American student and film lover who befriends a French brother and sister who are equally passionate about film (of course they are) and each other. Weâre pretty sure that you could put any three film students in Paris for a few weeks and some kind of tangled love triangle would ensue — especially when theyâre as attractive and as fond of nudity as these three.
Artsy-European-student-triangle runner-up: In the Spanish movie 3SOME (2009) — airing on the Sundance Channel August 17 — a woman goes to art school and decides she wants to explore sex (shocking, we know). She meets a guy who has a buddy… you know where this is going, right? A threeway relationship, natch. âItâs not normal,â she says. âBut weâre not normal,â the guy argues. Weâre artists.â Yep.
8. HEARTBEATS (2010)
This filmâs original French title is LES AMOURS IMAGINAIRES (the filmmaker is Quebecois), which is a lot more fitting — because only two out of the three people in this movie (which airs on the Sundance Channel August 18) appear to be aware of the love triangle. By the way, youâll notice that love triangles that take place outside the U.S. are much more likely to be M-M-F (god bless âem) — and this uber-stylized film is no exception. Francis and Marie are best pals — heâs a gay man, sheâs a straight woman — who fall for the same guy, a blithely gorgeous and androgynous traveler of undetermined sexuality named Nicolas. The three share a bed because Nicolas is broke, but the only hanky-panky that takes place is in Francis and Marieâs rich fantasy lives. Not surprisingly, their friendship doesnât exactly weather this storm. Itâs like a hipster Quebecois remake of JULES AND JIM (1962).
Runner-up imaginary love triangle: FIGHT CLUB (1999) — sure, the sex was real, but there was no steamy triangle with Brad Pitt; that part was all in Edward Nortonâs head. And can you blame him, really?
7. VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (2008)
Woody Allen may be all-American (or, at least, all-NYC), but even he chose to he set his love triangle in Spain. Scarlett Johansson plays an American student traveling in Europe who, naturally, ends up in a domestic threeway with wild artist (Javier Bardem) and his crazy-jealous ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). We could tell you about the snappy dialogue or the intricate plot twists, but do you even care at this point? Youâve got pretty much the most attractive love triangle in the entire history of human entanglement. What more do you need? For one of them to go all psycho with a knife? Done.
6. THE GRADUATE (1967)
Oh, Mrs. Robinson, you never stood a chance against your daughter. Hereâs to you, anyway.
5. BRIDGET JONESâS DIARY (2001)
Itâs inspired by the classic love triangle in Pride and Prejudice, but only in BRIDGET JONESâS DIARY do the two men competing for the same womanâs attention (Hugh Grant and Colin Firth) actually roll around on the street together in a full-on, glass-shattering brawl. The fighting is even funnier in the sequel, BRIDGET JONES: EDGE OF REASON (2004) — airing on the Sundance Channel August 13th and 19th — when the action is more girly cat-fight, complete with hair-pulling, ineffectual kicking, and a chase around a fountain.
4. CASABLANCA (1942)
Theyâll always have Paris, and weâll always have one of the most enduring — and heart-wrenching — love triangles of all time. Â Most of the time weâre incredibly grateful that this movie was made before the era when endings were âaudience-testedâ — but thereâs a teeny-tiny part of us that wishes there were a version out there where Bogart gets the girl. Is it possible that every cinematic love triangle since CASABLANCA has been trying to make amends for Bogartâs sacrifice?
Runner-up for ne-plus-ultra love triangle: JULES AND JIM (1962). Francois Truffautâs film has war, marriage, divorce, miscarriages, gun fighting, and suicide-by-cliff. (Oh, how French.) Itâs been inspiring homages ever since — both on and off the screen.
3. DANGEROUS LIAISONS (1988)
Ainât no love triangle like a 1760 love triangle! John Malkovich seduces married Michelle Pfeiffer on a dare from his control-freak ex Glenn Close. But when Malkovich actually falls in love, Close is royally pissed off — and thus ensues one of the most tortuous break-up scenes of all time: âItâs beyond my control,â Malkovich says again and again, in a line fed to him by Close. âWhy do you suppose we only feel compelled to chase the ones who run away?â Malkovich says to Close at one point. Close replies, âImmaturity?â A pretty key element to most love triangles, weâd say.
2. GONE WITH THE WIND
Finally, an all-American love triangle! It takes place in the middle of the Civil War, ferchrissakes. Itâs too bad Scarlett OâHara never read Les Liaison dangereuses — if she had, she might have realized a lot sooner that it was only an immature desire to chase the unavailable man which made Ashley even mildly attractive (even his name is timid). For future reference, Scarlett, when choosing between two men named Ashley and Rhett, always go with the Rhett.
1. SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (1987)
We suppose the nineties was alright for love-triangle rom-coms (there was REALITY BITES in 1994), but man, did the eighties rock it. The top spot in this list is basically a tie between SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL and PRETTY IN PINK (1986), but we ended up choosing the former because of the ending (and for how awesome tomboy Mary Stuart Masterson looked as a cross-dressing chauffeur). Did you know that in the original script for PRETTY IN PINK, Andie stays with Duckie? But test audiences booed, so in the final cut Duckie gives his blessing for her to go after ârichieâ Blane. In SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, on the other hand, itâs the loyal best friend (Masterson) from the same side of the tracks who gets the guy — and the diamond earrings. Who cares about Paris — weâll always have John Hughes.
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