10 Indie romcoms worth the watch
by Alessa Valentine
Indie romantic comedies: Let's take the alternative route to love with these 10 quirky, offbeat indie romcoms. What girl doesn't want imagination, mental hospitals and the afterlife along with the sweet comedy and romance?
For many girls, there's no better way to be unwind than with a romantic comedy that highlights the best parts of relationships while also helping you laugh at the more lacklustre ones. But when the big box office hits don't seem to blend in well with your outlook, it can be hard to find offbeat, quirky and cool indie romantic comedies. Never fear, we've got a few often overlooked indie movies that are just as sweet as their more mainstream counterparts. From the afterlife to the mental institution, we've picked out a few indie romantic comedies that take love to new and interesting heights.
Wristcutters: A Love Story
Directed by Goran Dukic
Starring Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Leslie Bibb and Eugene Hutz
Though undoubtedly not the most optimistic title for a romantic comedy, Wristcutters - A Love Story  is surprisingly sweet and heartwarming. An adaptation of Etgar Keret's short story, "Kneller's Happy Campers", Wristcutters is set in a strange sort of afterlife specifically reserved for those who have committed suicide. It's a place where the people can't smile and the days are duller than they were on Earth.
After a bad breakup, a desperate young man named Zia takes his own life and finds himself in the afterlife. A few months later, Zia finds out that his girlfriend, Desiree, took her own life and has been looking for him ever since she got there. Zia and his friend Eugene set out on an epic journey to find Desiree and along the way, meet Mikal, a hitchhiker who says that she ended up in the afterlife by accident. The three go on in search and meet a host of other interesting characters including legendary singer Tom Waits as Kneller. Will Zia find Desiree and get her back or will he find something even more special that he had never even counted on?
The subject matter of this movie is obviously very dark and that goes for the humour too. If you can deal with the morbid nature of it throughout, you will be rewarded with a great love story that culminates in one of the sweetest endings you'll ever see. It'll not only serve to make you more appreciative of your honey, but also more appreciative of life itself.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz and Serge Merlin
Amelie  is the story of a shy and reclusive young woman living in Paris. Kept inside for much of her childhood by neurotic parents, Amelie has grown to live inside of her head rather than in the real world. After finding an old time capsule and returning it to its original owner with fantastic results, Amelie decides that she is going to spend the rest of her life doing what she can to ensure the happiness of others.
This plan takes Amelie on a series of adventures, one of which leads her to a handsome man named Nino. After the two bump into each other at a train station, Amelie picks up a photo album that Nino accidentally left behind. She then begins staging elaborate but playful games that serve to intrigue and drawn Nino in. Will Amelie be able to come out of her shell and win the affections of Nino or will her reclusive nature work against her in getting what she wants?
This French film is full of memorable quirky whimsy. Since Amelie spends much of her time in her own head, we are treated to glimpses of her wonderfully wild imagination. And while Amelie's commitment to helping others is sweet in itself and oftentimes very comedic, the heart of the film is a beautiful message about taking chances for the things you really want in life and how a little bit of action can take us a long way, especially when it comes to love.
I'm A Cyborg, But That's Okay
Directed by Park Chan-wook
Starring Im Su-jeong and Rain
I'm A Cyborg  centres around Young-goon, a young woman who believes that she is not a human but a robot. After trying to "recharge" herself through electrocution and almost killing herself in the process, she is sent to a mental institution. While there, she meets another patient Il-Sun, a kleptomaniac who claims he can steal other people's talents, attributes or souls.
The two begin to develop a friendship that soon grows into something a little more complicated, to say the least. Can a relationship work between two people with so many of their own problems? Will true love help Young-goon and Il-Sun overcome them?
Utterly unique, this South Korean film (from the director of Oldboy and Lady Vengeance) is likely be the only romantic comedy that you will ever see set in a mental hospital. While the storyline mainly follows Young-goon and Il-Sun, we meet many other patients who all pitch in to create some incredibly hilarious moments throughout. The movie is guaranteed to have you laughing - but maybe it'll even help remind you that though we've all got our own issues and idiosyncrasies, love is one of the things that can help conquer it all.
Incidentally, while you will never look quite as ravishing as Im Su-jeong (unless you're fortunate enough to be in a film directed by the super-talented Park Chan-wook), you can at least explore an asian form of visual beauty with the handy all-in-one-place clothing site, Korean Fashion.
Adam and Steve
Directed by Craig Chester
Starring Malcolm Gets, Craig Chester, Parker Posey and Chris Kattan
Adam And Steve  is the story of two gay singles in New York City. Adam is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic that has spent too much time working on himself to have an active love life. Steve is Psychiatrist who uncovers other people's emotions by day while hiding his at night which leads to a very overactive love life. After a number of chance encounters, the two go out on a date and pursue a relationship, all the while feeling like they've known each other their whole lives.
While Adam and Steve's love blossoms, the two being to realize that the reason they feel like they've known each other their whole lives may date back to an embarrassing experience from their younger years. Will they be able to look past the past and move on together or does love between a Dazzle Dancer and a Goth never work out?
Whether you are straight, gay or in between, Adam and Steve is romantic comedy that everybody can enjoy. This movie is a perfect combination of great writing and great casting that together, create a hysterical and extremely relatable movie about the emotional baggage that can sometimes get in the way of true love, but only if we let it.
Lars and the Real Girl
Directed by Craig Gillespie
Starring Ryan Gosling, Kelli Garner, Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider
Lars And The Real Girl is about Lars, a reclusive young man who finds it difficult to relate to and socialize with the people in his small town. Living with his brother and sister-in-law, Gus and Karin, Lars one day has an announcement to make: He met a girl over the Internet. Her name is Bianca and the two are starting a relationship. When Bianca arrives, however, she is not a real girl but rather an incredibly realistic doll that he ordered from a popular adult site.
Horrified, Gus and Karin rush Lars off to the doctor who says that Lars is delusional but must be given the time he needs to get over it on his own. She advises them to band together and go along with Lars and his delusion until he decides that he is ready to give it up. The town bands together and all try to make Lars and Bianca as comfortable as possible. But will Lars be able to get over the delusion that could be keeping him from a more real and longlasting love he may have overlooked?
Lars and the Real Girl is touching and funny in all the right places. The film is not only an example of adorable romantic love but also a moving tribute to the bond between family and community. It's a story about accepting the flaws and failings of those around you and still loving them despite it all.
Directed by Nicholas Jasenovec
Starring Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera and Nicholas Jasenovec
Paper Heart  is a curious blend of documentary and romantic comedy surrounding Charlyne Yi, a comedian and actress who doesn't believe in love. She maintains that she has never been in love, doesn't really understand the concept of it and is unsure of its existence, at least for her. In order to help her understanding of the subject, Charlyne travels across America to interview people that would like to prove her wrong.
Along her way she meets fellow actor, Michael Cera, who pursues Charlyne despite her pessimistic view on relationships. After persistent effort, the two form a bond that may be just the kind of instruction on love that Charlyne needs, but will her cynical side take over and ruin her chance of learning?
The way the film blends interviews with real life people with the fake (though incredibly believable) relationship between Charlyne and Michael, which is a near-unique stortelling format that really works here. Many of the interviews have beautiful little stories that will uplift and amuse you, especially with their hilarious but adorable paper doll re-enactments. And if that's not enough, the soundtrack includes an incredibly sweet original song that Charlyne writes for Michael called "Magic Perfume". Overall, the movie is a great blend of realism and fantasy that carries a fine message about not being afraid of your feelings and taking a gamble on love.
Directed by Brian Dannelly
Starring Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin and Patrick Fugit
Saved  is the story of Mary, the picture-perfect Christian girl who seems to have everything going for her. She attends a Christian high school where she has popular and devout friends like Hillary Faye and even has a very handsome, very religious boyfriend named Dean. But Mary's Christian life is turned upside down when she learns that her boyfriend Dean might actually be gay. Determined to help bring him back to a "righteous" and straight path, Mary tries to do everything in her power to "cure" him. When nothing seems to be working, a desperate Mary decides to give up her virginity and have sex with Dean, thinking that this is exactly what will help him.
Unfortunately, this move leaves Mary pregnant while Dean is shipped off to a "degayification" retreat by his parents. Mary soon begins to question everything in her life and is pushed away by the intolerance of Hillary Faye and her cronies. Soon, Mary is ostracized from her former pals and instead befriends Cassandra, a wild Jewish girl attending her Christian highschool and Roland, Hillary Faye's paralyzed brother. She even meets Patrick, the religious, liberal, and very cute skateboarder son of her school's principal. It's with this band of "misfits" that Mary finds true friendship and maybe even true love.
The film is witty with a slight, biting satirical edge directed towards religion. If you are a religious alternative girl that is willing to take a joke, the movie can still be enjoyable and heartwarming despite it having views that may differ from your own. Saved! is a wonderful tale of tolerance and how the undying support and love from family, friends, and partners can help you overcome even the scariest of situations. Even more, it's a lovely reminder that sometimes the most important people to care about are those that wouldn't change you to fit their own image.
Zack and Miri Make A Porno
Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson and Jason Mewes
Zack and Miri have been best friends forever. They live together. They drive to work together. Zack even helps Miri pick out what she should wear when she they go to their high school reunion together. It seems like the only thing they haven't done together is have sex.
But when times get rough and Zack and Miri are threatened with the idea of getting evicted, the two hatch a plot to write, direct and star in their own porno. Enlisting the help of various friends, the two believe that their platonic friendship won't be affected by sexual relations. Fortunately for them, things don't usually go the way we plan and there may be more between the two than they had ever thought.
Zack and Miri... was directed by Kevin Smith, who also made Dogma, Chasing Amy and Clerks. So you know what you're getting - wisdom and human tenderness wrapped up in a whole lot of cheek.
Zack And Miri Make A Porno  is incredibly raunchy, hugely amusing and delightfully sweet. Due to the very dirty humour and generally graphic sexual nature of most of the film, it's definitely not for the faint of heart. But if you're able to sit through the naughty bits, you're rewarded with a great movie about falling in love with the person you never thought you would - which turns out to be the person that knows you the best. Plus, you'll get to see the most romantic scene involving a toilet ever. Thanks, Mr. Smith.
Directed by Alice Wu
Starring Michelle Krusiec, Joan Chen and Lynn Chen
Wil is a successful Chinese American surgeon living in Manhattan who arrives home one day to discover that not only is her widowed mother pregnant but she's moving in. Since her mother is not married, she's been thrown out of her own parents' house in Queens. But Wil's got some of her own secrets as well and her mother's arrival isn't helping to make things any easier.
As it turns out, Wil is LGBT that's falling for Vivian, the dancer daughter of the boss at the hospital she works at. Her mother is unaware of this, though it becomes increasingly hard to keep it that way. Knowing that the only way to get her mother out of her apartment and back with her grandparents, Wil tries to marry off her mother. Will she be able to help Ma find the man of her dreams? And will Wil be able to make it work with the woman of hers?
Saving Face  is a story of forbidden loves wrapped into one extremely funny package. Though there is a lot of emphasis on Chinese culture, the very traditional nature of the family is something that many people can appreciate and relate to, regardless of their heritage. Wil, Vivian and Ma's abilities to overcome the cultural taboos that threaten their happiness become a refreshing reminder that your love for someone is never something you should be ashamed of, no matter what anybody else tells you.
Directed by Zach Braff
Starring Zach Braff, Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard
In Garden State , one of the most well known and well loved alternative romantic comedies, Andrew Largeman is a mildly successful yet troubled young actor who returns home upon the death of his mother. He returns home to mourn the loss of his mother, which turns out to be even more complicated than one might think.
Due to an unfortunate childhood incident that had serious repercussions for the entire family, Andrew has spent the last nine years away from home. In order to help Andrew cope with the event, his psychiatrist father has prescribed him pills that have numbed the pain but also made Andrew feel disconnected with his emotions and with the world around him. In the midst of all this, Andrew meets Sam: a beautiful free spirit whose reckless courage and zest for life is infectious. Can Sam help Andrew reconnect with himself and see the beauty in life or is he destined to miss out on it all?
Garden State is cool and laid back with a killer soundtrack (Iron and Wine, the Shins etc.). The chemistry between Andrew and Sam seems natural and sweet with some killer dialogue between the two. It's funny, touching and best of all, subtle. The characters have a quiet love that doesn't call for gigantic gestures of love or words of devotion being shouted across rooftops in order for it to seem beautiful. The way that the pair interact seems to tell it all without them really having to say a thing. It's an inspiring story about how somebody can change your life when you least expect it and how true love can help turn you into the better person you've always wanted to be.
So whether you're single or taken, gay or straight, mushy to your core or more on the cynical side, there's no need to wait until Valentine's Day to indulge in some comedy-sprinkled romance. With these wonderfully weird indie movie picks, you'll be glad you stayed in.