The Oddest Couples In Cinema History
Ms Sally Hawkins and Mr Doug Jones in The Shape Of Water. Photograph courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures/2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved
Opposites attract, on the big screen at least.
The idea that opposites attract may lack nuance, but the best romances are often the ones we least expect. Or, at any rate, the ones with a little unconventional charm. Real life is seldom as exciting. If we want humdrum, run-of-the-mill, stick-your-fingers-down-your-throat romance, we need only take a mindless scroll through our Facebook feed to find it. When it comes to the big screen, however, we crave something a little more theatrical, and nothing beats an odd couple.
Enter the star-crossed lovers from Mr Guillermo del Toro’s latest venture, The Shape Of Water, who have unconventional charm in spades. Set in a high-security research laboratory against the backdrop of the Cold War-era US, it tells the story of a mute janitor who falls in love with an amphibious humanoid that is held captive there. An embattled, heart-wrenching skirmish between the couple and a sadistic cattle prod-wielding government agent follows – think Romeo And Juliet meets Creature From The Black Lagoon. Swoon.
To herald the release of the movie, which Mr del Toro has dubbed “a fairytale for troubled times”, we’re celebrating some of the oddest couples to have graced the big screen. They are all wildly different, but they provide us with a wormhole of otherworldly romance through which to escape. It’s love, Jim, but not as we know it
Mr Tom Hanks and Ms Daryl Hannah in Splash. Photograph by Touchstone Pictures/Alamy
Splash takes the Odyssey-esque motif of man meets mermaid and gives it a mid-1980s twist – there was no better time for wet-look hair, after all. The siren in question (played by Ms Daryl Hannah) falls in love with fruit and veg wholesaler Allen (Mr Tom Hanks) after a chance meeting, and wanders New York, naked, to find him. Cue more secret labs and evil government agents, and an arrest for indecent exposure.
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (2007)
Mr Ryan Gosling in Lars And The Real Girl. Photograph by MGM/Alamy
What begins as a disconcerting story about the socially awkward Lars Lindstrom (Mr Ryan Gosling), whose girlfriend is a life-sized doll called Bianca who arrived via the internet in a shipping crate, soon turns into a heart-warming tale of a local community banding together to help a man with crippling social anxiety. The odd couple in question may be a man and a doll, but the relationship ends up being a means to an end, and Lars’s journey to improved self-confidence is a lot more wholesome than it sounds.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
Ms Kate Winslet and Mr Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Photograph by Focus Features/Photofest
Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? What about to have loved, lost and forgotten the whole thing? A captivatingly unusual mix of drama, rom-com and science fiction, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind tells the story of an estranged couple (Mr Jim Carrey and Ms Kate Winslet) who decide to undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories. What follows is an emotionally turbulent narrative in which they fall in love all over again, unaware that they ever knew each other in the first place.
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
Mr Johnny Depp amd Ms Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands. Photograph by 20th Century Fox/Kobal Collection/REX Shutterstock
Poor Edward Scissorhands. Because of his hazardous appendages, getting close to anyone at all proves impossible. Still, unusual afflictions sometimes turn out to be useful. Edward (Mr Johnny Depp) charms his neighbourhood crush Kim (Ms Winona Ryder) by crafting an ice sculpture for her. The ice shavings that are thrown up cast snow over the neighbourhood. Despite his talent for topiary, Edward’s romance with Kim doesn’t quite fit into the strict suburban cul-de-sac life around them.
Mr Michael York, Mr Helmut Griem and Ms Liza Minnelli in Cabaret. Photograph by Warner Bros/Allstar Picture Library
Not so much an odd couple as an odd ménage à trois, Cabaret follows the saucy and theatrical antics of a few impoverished but bright young things in 1930s Berlin, on the brink of the Nazis’ violent rise to power. Stylishly shot and with some incredible music, the histrionic relationship in Cabaret between Sally Bowles and Brian Roberts (Ms Liza Minnelli and Mr Michael York) is a lesson in the pitfalls of polyamory, especially when neither party knows about it.
HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971)
Mr Bud Cort and Ms Ruth Gordon in Harold And Maude. Photograph by Paramount/Allstar Picture Library
Harold’s socialite mother is determined to set him up with potential suitors, but he scares them all off by appearing to commit suicide through delightful displays of self-immolation and seppuku. Obsessed with death, he attends a stranger’s funeral and meets 79-year-old Maude, who becomes his geriatric girlfriend. A touching, tender story that represents one of the oddest but most believable couples on screen, the film flopped when it was released in 1971 but has become a cult classic.
THE WAY WE WERE (1973)
Ms Barbra Streisand and Mr Robert Redford in The Way We Were. Photograph by The Moviestore Collection
A fiercely anti-war Marxist Jew (Ms Barbara Streisand) and a Waspy naval officer (Mr Robert Redford) may not be the most well-matched, but they do make for a charmingly odd couple in The Way We Were. Well, at least initially. In the end, the two struggle to reconcile their differences and break up for good. Frustrating, but believable.
CALL MY BY YOUR NAME (2017)
Mr Timothée Chalamet and Mr Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name, 2017. Photograph courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age tale that fizzes with sexual desire. The action takes place one heady summer in 1980s Crema, Italy. Elio Perlman (Mr Timothée Chalamet), a precocious teenager, has his world turned inside out by the arrival of Oliver (Mr Armie Hammer), an intern who has come to help Elio’s professor father with his archaeology research. Oliver is strapping, tanned and American, and quickly makes himself comfortable in the Perlman summer home (much to Elio’s initial disdain). This disdain soon becomes something much more complex. What follows is bike rides through the Italian countryside, summer nights spent dancing to The Psychedelic Furs, a whole lot of pent-up sexual frustration and, yes, a memorable encounter with a peach. (Read our interview with director Mr Luca Guadagnino here.)