We’ve all dreamt of running away from your family and the society with that one person who means the world to you. It feels almost dreamy and surreal to think of such a moment happening in your life. It has been a running theme in many of the films and while some direct its focus to the emotion of love, others use it as a background to tell more ambitious stories. It can be quite thrilling, exciting, emotional or perhaps even violent. Here is the list of best lovers on the run movies.
15. Monster (2003)
Few films have the power to devastate you in its emotional rawness and painful honesty. ‘Monster’ is one of those films. The film is based on the real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for murdering sex men and depicts her relationship with her girlfriend Selby Wall. They are deeply in love with each other and dream about having a life together and run away from the society but as the news of the murders she committed gets flashed across the newspapers, Selby begins to suspect her. Aileen tries to justify the murders as self-defense but their relationship is destroyed forever as Aileen is arrested on the charges and is later sentenced to death as Selby testifies against her.
14. The Sugarland Express (1974)
Many might not have seen the theatrical feature debut of the director who made ‘Schindler’s List’, ‘Raiders’ of the Lost Ark’ and ‘Jurassic Park’. ‘The Sugarland Express’ was partially based on a real-life incident about a married couple who go beyond the law in order to retrieve their child. The husband is in prison and is only a few months away from release but the wife informs him about their child and together they hatch a plan to snatch their kid from his foster parents. For a Spielberg film, it may now seem pretty raw but it’s still a testament to his skills as a director and is amazing to see how he has come all the way, sharpening his skills and expanding his artistry to become one of cinema’s most iconic visionaries.
13. The Getaway (1972)
Sam Peckinpah’s neo-noir crime thriller centres around an ex-con who is granted parole but is supposed to rob another bank as a favour for Sheriff Beynon. There is a whole lot of tension lurking in the atmosphere as Doc and his wife try to escape the mayhem they’ve just caused but there’s a kind of emotional detachment that Peckinpah creates from his characters that may tend to work against the film at times considering how exciting the storyline is. Feelings of betrayal run throughout the film which manages to keep us on the edge of our seats and the pay off at the end was quite memorable.
12. Kalifornia (1993)
Many of you might not have heard of this little gem starring Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis. ‘Kalifornia’ is about a couple who goes on a cross country drive for their research on serial killers but end up getting caught at the hands of one. The couple post a ride share ad as they were well short on money and they meet another couple, of whom one happens to be a psychopath. The film is a gripping road thriller, shockingly realistic and brutally powerful in its treatment. Brad Pitt’s performance here is undoubtedly one of the very best of his career as he elevates the movie to a level that simply wouldn’t have reached minus something truly exceptional on his part.
11. Sun Don’t Shine (2012)
A criminally overlooked indie gem, ‘Sun Don’t Shine’ deserves lot more love from the cinephile clubs. A woman murders her husband and flees with her lover. The couple then hide the body in the trunk of their car and are looking to ditch the body somewhere. It’s just a classic lovers on-the-run flick that is quite similar in its tone and atmosphere with some of the other films on the list. But Amy Seimetz’ characters here feel quite detached from their own realities and seem utterly vulnerable which make them a lot more distinctive and very human. It’s gripping, emotional and unflinching in its portrayal of a world so hopeless and dark yet too gorgeous to not look at.
10. Raising Arizona (1987)
One of Coen Brothers’ finest works, ‘Raising Arizona’ tells the story of Hebert and Edwina, a couple who can’t have children but can also not adopt because of Hebert’s criminal records. So the couple decide to kidnap one of the five babies of a famous furniture businessman. Things get quite interesting here in an absolutely hilarious roller coaster ride replete with memorable dialogues, countless funny moments and some fine performances by its lead. It’s a quintessential Coens’ flick that gets better and better with repeat viewings.
9. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
I fail to comprehend the genius of Wes Anderson. He’s an impeccable stylist but the thematic aspects of his films often come off as shallow to me and his humour has never really had a charm and endearing quality that his subjects often felt craving for. But I do respect the man for his vision and craft and this is one film that I partly enjoyed due to its performances and lovely storyline. The film is about a boy and a girl who run away together and are chased off by the family members and other authorities. They are young and full of live, desperate to run away from the clutches of authority, establishment and power. It’s quirky, fun and endearing replete with some delectable moments of pure cinematic bliss.
8. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Perhaps the most unsurprising entry on the list. ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ is as funnily violent and exciting as cinema can get. It tells the story of a waitress who is bored by her job and happens to meet an ex-con as they set out for a violently adventurous journey through the country, stealing cars, banks. The film is an absolute blast and captures the sheer madness and excitement of youth with astonishing verve and energy. The couple is violent and almost hysterical but we root for them because they’re so full of passion and energy and love to rebel against the system. Almost every aspect of the film has become iconic in a way and it continues to entertain and enthrall like very few films do.
7. Natural Born Killers (1994)
This Oliver Stone directed satirical drama is about a young psychopathic couple, glorified by the media, who are on the run after they went on a ruthless killing spree. The script was written by Quentin Tarantino but much of it was changed by Stone which pretty much affected the final output. But nevertheless,the film works on so many levels as an energetic lovers on-the-run fun ride, a pure action flick and a brilliant satirical drama and the rock-starish look and feel of the film give it a rare punch. The film was highly controversial for being violent and received mostly mixed response from the critics. But its stylistic elements and carefree attitude have somewhat attracted a decent cult following over the years.
6. True Romance (1993)
Directed by Tony Scott from a script written by Quentin Tarantino, ‘True Romance’ follows a couple, an Elvis Presley fanatic and a prostitute, who run away from the woman’s pimp as they head towards California, trying to sell cocaine stolen from him. The genius of Tarantino effortlessly combines ingredients of action, romance, black comedy and crime drama and with some neat and energetic direction by Tony Scott, crafts one of the most entertaining and bizarrely twisted love stories of all time.
5. Thieves Like Us (1974)
Of course, we couldn’t have thought of wrapping this up without this Robert Altman classic. Based on the novel of the same by Edward Anderson, ‘Thieves Like Us’ follows a trio of criminals who escape from prison and get on with bank robberies. They get involved in a series of events and come across many people of whom one of them falls in love with. Altman’s humorous tone works brilliantly here and is just about the perfect remake of Nicholas Ray’s remake which was also based on the same novel. Although nowhere near Altman’s best works, the film pretty much manages to strike the right chords on an emotional level and his style here seems a lot more focused albeit less ambitious than his other works.
4. Wild at Heart (1990)
David Lynch’s bizarrely beautiful romantic drama revolves around a couple who run away from the woman’s mother and the gangsters she has hired to kill the man. Their journey is met with a series of tumultuous events with bizarre twists and turns as we are revealed more about these characters and how the naivety and silliness of their love is questioned by a violent unapologetic world. Lynch infuses the film with his famous humour by throwing a naive, idealistic couple into a bizarrely twisted, cruel world. The film isn’t anywhere near Lynch’s best works but works mostly due to its performances and its inherent raw energy and passion.
3. Breathless (1960)
Roger Ebert once described Jean Luc-Godard’s films as an attitude. This is perhaps best displayed in ‘Breathless’, a cinematic revolution that defied and re-defined filmmaking norms in cinema. ‘Breathless’ is less of an emotion and more of an attitude; what it feels like to be young, carefree, make love to your woman, smoke a ciggarrette and stick your middle finger up to the society you live in. While it may not entirely qualify to be called as a “lovers on-the-run” flick, it’s still very much a film about lovers running away from the society and despising authority and rule. Countless films, labelling themselves as “cool” and “hipster”, may come and go but nothing could ever top the coolest film ever made.
2. Pierrot Le Fou (1965)
One of Jean Luc-Godard’s greatest films, ‘Pierrot Le Fou’ tells the story of a man, unhappy with his wife and tired of his bourgeois life, who runs away with his ex lover. The woman has already murdered a man and together they set out on a cross country odyssey. They steal money and injure people at a gas station but violence seems to have no impact on them as they continue their journey, discussing poems, philosophy and expressing their love for each other. Stylistically distinctive, the film was noted for its unconventional narrative and unusual editing style and is widely regarded as one of the most influential films ever made.
1. Badlands (1973)
Terrence Malick’s memorable feature film debut focuses on a couple who kill the girl’s father and try to escape into the Badlands of Montana while having to taste blood on their way. Holly is a 15 year old who’s been emotionally distant from her father since her mother’s death. She is instantly infatuated with the 25 year old Kit and they spend time talking to each other about their lives and soon fall in love. One day he comes to her house and has an encounter with her father and ends up killing him. They then run away and wander across the country but as bounty hunters chase them, things turn violent as the couple go on a killing spree. A mesmerisingly poetic and haunting tale of romance at its darkest and most violent.