10 Best Ways the Movies Say I Love You

5. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Not all love stories have happy endings. Sometimes, love destroys our lives rather than illuminates them, leaving both physical and emotional scars. Especially when the kind of love we feel isn’t accepted by the society we’re forced to live in.

In Brokeback Mountain, directed by Ang Lee, adapted from the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx, Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) are two cowboys hired in the summer of 1963 to herd sheep on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming. There, they begin a passionate and fraught love affair that spans more than a decade. Their love is complicated by societal expectations of the time, leading both men to express their love, as well as their frustration and loneliness, in explosive and often violent ways. Every time one presents the other with the opportunity to be together, the other rejects it.

After years of back and forth, of trying and failing to stay away from each other, Ennis and Jack meet for the last time. They fight with each other and blame each other. It’s an emotionally charged scene, made all the more poignant by the visceral performances from Ledger and Gyllenhaal.

Finally, Jack says, “I wish I knew how to quite you.”

Like most of the entries on this list, this line is so simple, but it packs a punch. The weight of all that is unspoken is finally made known. It is harsh and it is cruel, but it encapsulates the very real feeling of not being able to stop loving someone, no matter how hard you try. No matter how dangerous or ruinous that love is, it is impossible to just cut it out and let it go.

4. Bones and All (2022)

Bones and All, directed by Luca Guadagnino, is essentially a movie about vampires. Instead of sucking the blood out of their victims, though, Maren (Taylor Russell) and Lee (Timothee Chalamet), are “eaters” who have an unquenchable desire to cannibalize people. It’s a film about otherness, about being outcast from society for one reason or another, and the bonds we form with people who make us feel less alone.

Maren and Lee embark on a cross-country road trip with each other and, after a few bumps in the road, eventually settle down to try and live a normal life. However, Sully (Mark Rylance), another eater who has stalked Maren throughout the film, appears and in the ensuing struggle, Lee is mortally wounded. His last request is for Maren to eat him, “bones and all.” While she is reluctant at first, she agrees.

It is, in the end, a final act of love, to devour someone completely and take them as they are, the good and the bad, bones and all. In a story about two people existing on the margins of society, eating someone’s bones and all is less about the actual act and more about the idea of loving someone fully and accepting them despite their flaws.

3. Dirty Dancing (1987)

When Baby (Jennifer Grey) vacations at a resort in the Catskill Mountains with her family in the summer of 1963, she meets a dance instructor, Johnny (Patrick Swayze), who changes her life. Although the two do not get along at first, partly due to Baby’s naïve and optimistic outlook on life and Johnny’s cynical nature, they agree to dance together when Johnny’s partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) has to miss the performance due to needing an abortion.

Dancing is Baby and Johnny’s love language. As their relationship grows, so to does their ability to move in sync with one another. They express their attraction to each other first through dance, and as they come to trust and respect one another, Baby’s dancing ability blossoms.

Baby’s journey from adolescence to adulthood is charted in her ability to do the ever elusive lift at the end of the routine, something she only manages to accomplish at the end of the film. It’s Johnny and Baby’s final dance together that truly proves their feelings for each other, their love and trust made evident in their ability to move together as one. That iconic final lift symbolizes not just Baby’s transformation as a person, but her and Johnny’s relationship in general, which goes from uncomfortable and forced to a true partnership.

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