True romance: film, music and art to fall in love with on Valentine’s Day

From a mind-scrambling breakup drama to a tender video game, our critics suggest popular culture inspired by matters of the heart


Yes, it all takes place after Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) have bitterly broken up, but Michel Gondry’s inventive, mind-scrambling sci-fi Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is actually perfectly romantic. On the pretext of annihilating the painful memories of his ex, Joel relives them, learning not just how much this elective amnesia will cost him, but also how much happiness is locked in the permafrost of the past, waiting to be thawed out. Inasmuch as any film this entertaining can be, it’s really an exhortation to listen to what your future self is screaming at you from another dimension right now: to turn off your TV, wrap your lover in your arms and notice this present, perfect moment as it’s happening. Jessica Kiang



Adventureland … A scene from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
Adventureland … A scene from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Photograph: Sony

Globe-trotting action game Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End contains, in its opening few hours, one of gaming’s sweetest relationship scenes. Charming treasure hunter Nathan Drake has settled down with Elena, a fellow adventurer and photographer. The two both miss the excitement of their former lives, but we play through a moment of adorable domestic bliss when Nate picks up a PlayStation controller and proceeds to be absolutely terrible at Elena’s favourite game. Listening to their affectionate ribbing, this feels like a couple who have actually been through things. Uncharted 4 ends up being about a few different kinds of love – for family, for adventure, for your partner – and how that love can change us. Not quite what you’d expect from an epic pirate treasure hunt. Keza MacDonald



The art’s desire … Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene.
The art’s desire … Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene. Photograph: Alamy

One of ancient Greece’s great queer icons, Sappho embraces her fellow-poet lover, Erinna, in Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene, a pioneering painting of same-sex love. Its maker, Simeon Solomon (1840-1905), was a Victorian outlier, depicting gay desire for a public audience. Tragically though, he fell from art world grace following an arrest for having sex with another man in a public lavatory. Looking towards her viewers, Erinna’s hesitancy – the raised knee, the stilling hand – suggests a fear of exposure. Skye Sherwin



London Hughes in To Catch a Dick.
Risque business … London Hughes in To Catch a Dick. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

“This show is literally the dictionary definition of love in the 21st century.” London Hughes is not given to understatement but maybe she has a point when she identifies her breakout 2019 show To Catch a Dick as the last word on modern romance. These 60 uproarious minutes find the Croydon comic reviewing her life so far in love and sex, from presenting smutty TV to flings with foot-fetishists and smack-addled bankers. Throughout, Hughes sends up and celebrates in lurid terms her will to power, glory and sexual success. If it’s finally less concerned with love hearts than with other bodily organs, To Catch a Dick is sure to turn up the temperature on your Valentine’s Day. Brian Logan



Sonya Spence Sings Love.

If you are looking for a Valentine’s soundtrack that evokes the dizzying sugar rush of youthful embrace, it doesn’t come better than lovers rock, the swooning Jamaican reggae pop that found a home in Britain in the mid-1970s. Released originally in 1981, Sonya Spence’s album Sonya Spence Sings Love takes that blueprint and sprints, infusing the genre with her own delicate twist of soul. Let Love Flow On – samples of which can be found on 2021’s I Have a Love by Dublin dance artist For Those I Love – is a guaranteed floor-filler at a big Caribbean family wedding, while Fantasy is the embodiment of a perfect first date, riding off into a palm tree-lined sunset. Its keen sense of nostalgia will add some much-needed sparkle to any dull British winter. Jenessa Williams


Jessica Kiang, Brian Logan, Keza MacDonald , Skye Sherwin and Jenessa Williams

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