Unrequited Love in Movies – And How We Root For Them.

When Watts (the beautiful and cool Mary Stuart Masterson in a pixie cut) and Keith (dreamy 80s heartthrob Eric Stoltz) ends up together at the end of Some Kind of Wonderful, I had hope. Hope that means I could also end up with my crush. Of course that was just a phase, and years later I forgot about it, and all as well. I’m still lonely, but all is well.

I don’t know what is the attraction with unrequited love in movies, and despite the fact it can be touching – it’s also unhealthy to pine on someone who doesn’t feel the same way. Seriously.

But let’s talk about that another time.

You know the formula for unrequited love in movies, or tv shows. The guy or girl are usually unpopular or unattainable, sometimes geekish, dork and seemingly unattractive (Ducky, Cyrano de Bergerac, George McFly, Pip) who falls for the popular and attractive individuals. Their source of attraction are sometimes in a relationship with another person (bonus point if the significant other is a dick or a bitch), who does not return their affection. In some cases, they do have the same feelings, although it takes effort. Sometimes the effort involves the protagonist changing their appearance or status in other to be noticed by their crush …*cough* like Taylor Swift in “You Belong With Me” music video.

I think the most tragic (without death in the mix) is Helena from Midsummer’s Night Dream. Let’s just admit here, first, that the relationships and portrayal of love in Shakespeare is messed up. Helena, in love with Demetrius is chasing after him even though he is in love with Hermia, who is mutually in love with Lysander. She pursues him, eventhough the role of women in the play is emphasised as being passive, she breaks the rules. Demetrius is cruel, and an asshole when it comes to treating Helena, and yet she still pursues this son of a bitch. In the end they do end up with each other, but that was only because of the magic and spell that was cast on Demetrius, so ultimately, their love was not even real. Also, not to mention, Helena would be an accomplice for murder if Demetrius did manage to kill Lysander – but killing a rival in Shakespeare is not a big deal. There’s no deeper meaning to it, you don’t live your life and lessons on Shakespeare, but you have to admit, it’s a little messed up.

Maybe it’s our soft spot for underdogs. We root for Forrest Gump as he confesses his love for Jenny. Or Charlie Chaplin in City Lights, as he tries everything he can for the blind girl who he fell in love with. It’s touching and heartbreaking on how far would a person go for the happiness of others, and you can’t help but root for The Tramp throughout the whole movie. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sally is secretly enamored with Jack Skellington, who doesn’t even notice her. Sweet and brave, I feel that Sally is the unsung hero in the movie, if it wasn’t for her, Halloweentown, “Sandy Claws” and Christmas Town would be destroyed – and only towards the end that Jack realizes he loves Sally too.

Despite that, do we fill sympathy for every girl or guy whose love is not returned? I feel like that’s not the case. Would you feel sorry for a selfish, cruel and scheming character who would do anything to make their unrequited love fall in love with them? Or just an evidently obsessive individual who can’t accept the fact that their crush just don’t feel the same? Take for example Caroline Bingley, rich, snobbish, arrogant and rude, pining for Mr. Darcy for her own selfish reason. Or Snape Severus. Granted, he was a double agent who tried to avenge for Lily Potter’s death, but we can’t really overlook his mistreatment towards everybody else. Let’s not forget he’s the reason why Remus lost his teaching job and bullied kids like Neville Longbottom. Another example, is the lovable romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney.

Being in love with your best friend sucks, a lot of people know that too well. It’s even more heartbreaking being designated as a maid of honor for your best friend’s fiancé. While we feel for Julia Roberts, that doesn’t make it acceptable for her to even try to break up her best friend’s wedding. And you know, I’m glad the happy ending doesn’t involve her marrying her best friend instead, but learning that the best thing to do is to let things go. Her action to bring Kimmy and Michael together at the end allows us to forgive her. Although, honestly, if it wasn’t for the development of her character, we’ll be rooting along with the ladies in the bathroom for her scheme to destroy someone’s wedding.

In conclusion, unrequited love can be either touching or harrowing, and at times – annoying (Look for Jacob in the Twilight series). Maybe it’s because it’s a common thing, to be experienced by everyone, when we’re in high school or as an adult, or maybe we’re just so addicted to be heartbroken, even if it’s about something fictional.

So what’s your favorite movie with unrequited love in it?

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