If you’re looking for a good date movie to see on Valentine’s Day weekend, there is an alternative to 50 Shades of Grey. The movie Old Fashioned, to be released nationwide on Valentine’s Day, shows how a man with self-restraint has a far more powerful allure than a man who likes putting his girlfriends in restraints.
Even fiction can teach us truth, and even fantasies can be healthy—or not. Why would someone want to settle for a titillating untruth like the dysfunctional relationship in 50 Shades of Grey? Bondage, while a turnoff to some and a temptation to others, has never been hailed as a healthy basis for life-long love.
The healthiest basis for life-long love is self-control, and the best place to practice it is while dating. The movie Old Fashioned shows how attractive a man can be when he controls his darkest impulses for the sake of a higher good. The film doesn’t deny that dark impulses exist, but it doesn’t promote giving in to them either.
In the tender and sometimes rocky romance between the main characters, we see two broken individuals helping to heal each other. Clay is a reformed frat boy who refuses to date because he thinks people know more about someone after a job interview for delivering pizza than after most dates—a valid point! He wants a courtship but on his terms and by his rules. Amber is a free spirit who drifts from place to place, wherever the wind takes her, but inside she’s lonely and afraid to be hurt again. Amber shows Clay that love doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth it, and Clay shows Amber that respect for a woman’s body does not equal a lack of passion or a disinterest in love for the long term.
The movie includes some incredibly wise counsel on love and dating, including the most deceptively simple advice ever heard in a romantic movie: “It won’t be easy.” Because when opposites attract—and they do—they don’t cease being opposites the moment they walk down the aisle. And when two people are wounded—as many are—old wounds still ache. Old temptations, like cancers, go into remission but may never be fully cured. But respect, self-control, and commitment to do the right and Godly thing are the qualities that will persevere and ultimately triumph.
Filled with faith and forgiveness, the movie Old Fashioned reminds us how love was meant to be. As a happily married mother of six, I’m not exactly in the dating market any more. But I have five daughters, and the oldest is entering her teenage years. She’ll be dating sooner than I can imagine (with her siblings not far behind), and I want her to seek out a healthy relationship. Movies etch pictures in our mind, inspire wishes and wanting, and set up ideals to imitate. Old Fashioned depicts the kind of relationship I want my children to have.