The Valentine roses soon fade but the poet's words linger: 'No thorns go as deep as a rose's, and love is more cruel than lust.' One of the most wrenching cinema moments is in Annie Hall when Woody Allen is told by an old woman in the street that 'love fades'. The same cinema that has glorified love, has also given us haunting evocations of its pain and excesses. These have been captured in several video/laser releases.

CRAZY LOVE (video, 83 minutes, 1988, English subtitles).

NEXT time you are trying to name four famous Belgians, remember the director Dominique Deruddere because this movie is mordantly brilliant. He has linked three short stories by the bucolic writer, Charles Bukowski, into a progressive narrative about a young boy's passage from romantic notions of love to agonising disillusion. Crazy Love is a much stronger film than the other Bukowski inspired films - Barfly and Tales Of Ordinary Madness.

In part one, young Harry is in love with a film star's glossy picture and is waiting to kiss a princess in a white dress. An older boy introduces him to lust's sweating realities, shows him toads mating and at the fairground and tries to find a girl for him 'to get off with'. Too soon, he discovers the tribulations of love and is farcically thrown off an older woman he creeps up on. Disappointed, he masturbates over his romantic picture as the rain streaks the grimy window. Love's young dream is shattered.

We move on seven years, and adolescent Harry is plagued with diabolical acne. His fumbling, embarrassed gropings with love are cruelly spurned. In an excruciating but exquisite sequence, he turns up at a ball with his face bandaged in toilet paper - a bestial prince charming.

Fourteen years later, he is a middle-aged drunk and love has eluded him. In this degraded state, he enacts a shocking love scene inverting the lovers' promise of 'death do us part'. The death of love is paraded as a macabre triumph - dead horrible but deadly accurate.

THE HONEYMOON KILLERS (video, 108 minutes, 1969) IF this was the honeymoon, it's a relief we didn't see the marriage. Opera composer Leonard Kastle directed this cult favourite and true story of the notorious Lonely Hearts killers of the 1940s. An atmospheric account of the bizarre, ill-matched relationship between suave, Latin con-man (Tony Lo Bianco) and his 91 kilogram lover-cum-accomplice (Shirley Stoler), The Honeymoon Killers is a small classic.

The lovers, Martha and Ray, meet through lonely heart letters. Using a romantic gigolo line, they go on to trick and murder lonely old ladies for their money and this in turn fuels their perverse passion. Love betrays the victims but not Martha and Ray - even execution on the electric chair is just another of passion's varied pains.

DAMAGE (video/laser, 111 minutes, 1992) LOUIS Malle's film version of Josephine Hart's best-selling novel painfully exposes the pain and the destruction that result from love's indiscretions. Jeremy Irons plays a politician who falls in love at first glance with his future daughter-in-law (Juliette Binoche). His blind pursuit of the affair leads to tragedy and the destruction of the family. The first half is somewhat dull despite the grand, lingering direction but the second part is stunning. Damage is disquieting proof that 'All men kill the thing they love . . . but the kind man does it with a sword, the coward with a kiss'.

LOVE LETTERS (video, 88 minutes, 1983) AMY Jones directs this taut and telling tale of obsessive love. Anna Winter (Jamie Lee Curtis) is clearing out her dead mother's personal belongings when she discovers a cachet of love letters written to her mother during her long, cold marriage. The letters are longing and romantic testament to unrequited love. Anna can not stop dwelling on them because she herself falls all too quickly into a doomed affair with a married man (James Keach).

She imposes phrases from the letters into their snatched moments and is bitterly disappointed when painful reality does not match the promise of written words. She watches old movies like From Here To Eternity, which first romaticised adultery.

Love Letters is strongly acted. Anna learns that the reality of deception is pain and survives with the disquieting knowledge that 'love must be lived in the everyday world of Chevrolets, toothaches and lost chances'.