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Top ten forbidden hook-ups on film

Gearing up for the release of Hong Khaou's Lilting, we countdown the no go relationships destined for disaster

Hong Khaou's beautifully languid debut feature Lilting hits UK screens on Friday 8 August, and you should be excited. It sees Richard (Ben Whishaw) try to connect with Junn (martial arts legend Cheng Pei Pei), the mother of his boyfriend who has recently died, and negotiate just what to tell her about the real nature of their relationship. To mark the release, here are our pick of films in which hook-ups are ill-advised, forbidden, or cause all hell to break loose. Viva la romance (or wrongness).

MOEBIUS (2013)

It kicks off with revenge for a marital infidelity – but that's just the tip of this bizarre catalogue of sexual deviancy and hysteria from South Korean provocateur Kim Ki-duk. With next to no dialogue, the tragicomic nightmarescape plays out like a grotesque Freudian ballet, as husband, wife and son all take extreme measures to cope with their decidedly unhealthy triangle. Having had a hard time with the censors securing release in its own country, it now hits UK screens on Friday 8 August.


Falling for a guy from the wrong social clique doesn't run smoothly for working-class high school student and new wave record store clerk Andie (Molly Ringwald at her '80s most iconic) in this John Hughes classic, especially when his asshole preppy friends are more then vocal with their disdain of her thrift-store vibe.


Helen Mirren plays the wife of a flamboyantly sadistic English gangster who's fed up with her husband. Garbed in spectacular outfits by Jean-Paul Gaultier, she plunges into an affair of reckless mid-meal trysts with the quiet bookseller who frequents the same high-end French restaurant as them. It can only end badly in Peter Greenaway's baroquely violent, lavish world of extremity.

TABU (2012)

A doomed, illicit love affair is at the heart of this beautifully strange, black-and-white arthouse hit from Portuguese director Miguel Gomes. From modern-day Lisbon, we travel via reminiscences back through time to an African colony haunted by a melancholy crocodile and a widow’s ghost.


Dracula is under strict health requirements to avoid non-virgins - and as eligible women are scarce in his hometown, he travels to Italy, hoping a Catholic country will provide the means for his survival. The daughters on the lavish estate he's staying in attract his attention – but has the handyman made them all off-limits? Produced by Andy Warhol and directed by Paul Morrissey, this comic take on the Gothic fable is trash cinema at its best.


There's hardly a more iconic tale of forbidden love than the Emily Bronte novel that Kate Bush wailed about in her hit song. Brit director Andrea Arnold takes the weather-lashed story of poverty-born Heathcliff (James Howson) and foster sister Cathy (Kaya Scodelario) back to its raw, brutal essence.


The student-teacher no-no is taken to off-the-scale levels of crazy in this twisted thriller from Austria's master of ice-cold intensity Michael Haneke. Based on a blackly brilliant satire by Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek, it stars Isabelle Huppert as a repressed piano professor who still lives with her tyrannical mother in Vienna and disastrously plays out her fetishes with a pupil.

LOLITA (1997)

Having directed 9 1/2 Weeks, Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal, Adrian Lyne is no stranger to ill-advised desires. He's also behind the second screen adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's iconic tragicomedy Lolita (Kubrick made the first). Jeremy Irons stars as Humbert Humbert, a pervy Euro lit professor obsessed with the adolescent daughter of the widow he's renting a room from.


Leftist revolutionary Valentin (Raul Julia) and gay cinephile Luis (William Hurt) share a Brazilian prison cell during the military dictatorship in director Hector Babenco's classic, based on Manuel Puig's brilliant novel. As Luis helps them pass the time by recounting scenes from an old wartime romance movie, a bond develops, complicating as feelings intensify, and Valentin asks his lover to collaborate under the watchful, disapproving eye of the secret police.

PALO ALTO (2013)

April (Emma Roberts) is a straightlaced, impressionable 17-year-old who drifts toward darker territory when she clocks the interest of her much older football coach (James Franco, amping up the sleaze factor). Gia Coppola's gentle, atmospheric directorial debut, adapted from a Franco short story collection and soundtracked by Blood Orange, is out in the UK on Friday 3 October.