Love triangles existed long before the implosion of Hollywood golden couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston back in 2005.
It seemed the entire world split into Team Angelina or Team Jennifer when the seemingly perfect couple went their separate ways and Brad began a relationship with Angelina Jolie. And though it seems everyone has moved on from the split, it wouldn’t take much to set off heated debates on who was right and who was wrong. It all serves to teach us that love can be a damnably messy, and yet, a terrifyingly wonderful ordeal.
To celebrate the release of the story of a great and powerful love between modern-day vampires Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) in Only Lovers Left Alive, in cinemas across the UK now, we have put together a list of some of the greatest love triangles in film history.
Bridget Jones’ Diary
Inspired by Pride & Prejudice, the most appealing aspect of Bridget’s story is that she is relatable to so many women. Her everyday struggles with her life goals, her weight, and most importantly, her love life are the very things that women everywhere identify with. Not only that the film itself serves to fulfill the very thing we all dream about – having two dashingly handsome men (Hugh Grant and Colin Firth) vying for an everyday woman’s attention.
The love story between First Lieutenant Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Nurse Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale) is at once sweepingly romantic and devastatingly tragic at the same time when their blossoming relationship is tragically cut short when Rafe is presumed dead after his plane is shot down. Seeking solace in the arms of Rafe’s best friend and fellow pilot, Danny (Josh Hartnett), only further complicates matters when Rafe returns and Evelyn discovers she is pregnant. A tale of two love stories and undying friendship, the love and respect the two men hold for one another is what makes this love triangle one of the greats.
Pride & Prejudice
If Rafe and Danny love one another as brothers, the same cannot be said of the relationship between Mr. Darcy (there goes Colin Firth again) and George Wickham in the 1995 TV adaptation of the famous novel. A philandering gambler with loose morals and devilishly good looks, Wickham represents all that is at once dangerous but also appealing in the same breath. Which is not to say that Darcy is at all the respectable gentleman he likes to think of himself. In fact, it is this heightened sense of his position and importance that makes him distinctly unappealing to Elizabeth and draws her towards the sickeningly charming Wickham instead…until she sees them both for who they truly are and chooses Darcy (of course!)
The Age Of Innocence
Set in New York during the late c.19th, this Martin Scorsese film tells the story of a desperate but dangerous love between affluent lawyer Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). Social expectation plays the third point in this love triangle with the appearance of Ellen’s conventional and passionless cousin May (Winona Ryder) to whom Archer is engaged. A story of deep passion struggling against a society driven by appearance and convention, this love triangle brings the realities of the destructive nature of the politics of marriage and society once love is added to the mix.
My Best Friends Wedding
A lesson in letting love pass you by, Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) only realizes she has always been in love with best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) when he announces his engagement to Kimmy (Cameron Diaz). So naturally sabotaging the nuptials is an unfortunate consequence as both best friend to the groom and maid of honor to the bride. Though the film is hilarious, the ultimate lessons in love and heartbreak are well learned in the end.
The love triangle between couple Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his best friend Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is a quiet and understated love story – this is exactly how Mark’s feelings for Juliet can be described in Love Actually. Being in love with his best friend’s wife is a private struggle for Mark who battles with his feelings, keeping an emotional distance from Juliet who inevitably discovers his secret. Acceptance and kindness lead this love triangle into a quiet but heartbreaking close in the end, forcing Mark to move on.
The love story that, for a time seemed to have every young girl’s attention across the globe, Edward and Bella’s dramatic love story had literally everything. One melodramatic human teenaged girl, one brooding vampire, and one werewolf who just won’t take no for answer, along with obscenely good looks and you have the love triangle to end all love triangles. If Bridget Jones spoke to the desires of women everywhere then Twilight did the same for teenaged girls (and we won’t mention the real life triangle actress Kristen Stewart got herself into! To say that ruined the fantasy for Twilight fans everywhere is an understatement).
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
A story that has several different relationships that intertwine, the most prominent (and bizarre) relationship of them all is artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) and wife Maria Elena’s (Penelope Cruz) marriage. After seducing Cristina’s best friend Vicky (Rebecca Hall), Juan Antonio and Cristina begin a relationship and when ex-wife Maria attempts suicide, Juan Antonio quickly moves her into the apartment he shares with Cristina… and into their relationship.
While You Were Sleeping
It’s debatable whether or not Lucy Moderatz’s (Sandra Bullock) secret love for handsome commuter Peter Callaghan (Peter Gallagher) is creepy or sweet, but it is definitely weird when Lucy finds herself in the unique position of saving Peter’s life and somehow letting his family mistake her for his fiancée when they visit the rather conveniently comatose man. The whole situation turns out to be sweet and funny at the same time when Lucy finds herself falling deeply in love with Peter’s brother Jack (Bill Pullman).
Former lovers Isla (Ingrid Bergman) and Rick (Humphrey Bogart) are reunited in unusual circumstances when Rick obtains valuable war documents. And who should want them but Isla’s husband Victor. One of the most famous triangles in history, what makes Casablanca both appealing and frustrating is that Bogart doesn’t get the girl in the end.
Only Lovers Left Alive is in UK cinemas now.