I’ve never been much for typical romance. I’ve never seen Dear John, or The Notebook, and I giant teddy bears creep me out. But with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’m done denying that I’m not a romantic…I’m just not romantic in the ways that perhaps others are. When thinking of the films to pick for this list I was tempted to include Natural Born Killers…you know, the film about the serial killing couple banned in some countries. The scene where they perform their own wedding ceremony on the bridge is so beautifully romantic to me – but don’t recommend me a therapist just yet – as I’ve actually managed to find five romantic dramas that I actually do enjoy, and these have a lot less murder.
5 – AN EDUCATION (2009)
“If you never do anything, you never become anyone.”
I first watched An Education when I was deep in my French New Wave film phase after a friend had let me borrow her DVD. I was reluctant at first, just on account of the fact I hadn’t watched anything that didn’t involve some sort of weird sex scene or ritual murder in a few weeks and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to let go of that just yet, but as soon as I put it on, I fell in love.
This was the first film I’d ever seen Carey Mulligan in, but since this film, she continues to be one of my favourite actresses. An Education follows a young schoolgirl in 1960’s London and how she falls in love with an older man who promises to show her everything she desires. Jenny is an intelligent girl with high aspirations, with a love and passion for music and French culture. Her dream is to go to Oxford University but soon drops out of school when David asks her to marry him. Their love affair is stunningly portrayed on-screen through beautiful French music, clothes and classic English cars. I think what makes this film so romantic is not only the time period but the sense of knowing what it might feel like to be Jenny, a young girl rushed off her feet by an older man who suddenly opens your eyes to so many things in life.
Although I must warn you – this film doesn’t have the traditional happy romantic ending that you might be expecting, but the ending is still one that makes everything worthwhile.
4 – BLUE VALENTINE (2010)
“Baby, you made a promise to me, okay? You said, “for better or worse.” You said that. You said it. It was a promise.”
I discovered this film while on a Ryan Gosling binge (although still haven’t watched The Notebook – am I missing out?) after I had watched another off-beat romance with an amazing performance by Gosling, Lars and The Real Girl. But I decided to include Blue Valentine instead because it captures real love and life.
The film follows a married couple and the timeline of how the two got together, alongside the present storyline where their relationship is in trouble. The rawness and the intense emotion between the characters and their fight to keep their marriage together are really something to watch. Once again, not a typical romantic film where everything is happy and lovely, but something that really speaks of human relationships and how sometimes despite being in love, you end up hurting each other.
3 – TWO WEEKS NOTICE (2002)
“I find you…annoying.”
I haven’t watched this film in years but thinking of it now is bringing back memories of me and my Mum watching it on a Sunday while the smell of Sunday dinner drifted through the house. Me and my Mum always watched movies like these together, classic Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, we had watched them so many times we could quote the movie by heart, but every watch still got us both welling up by the ending scenes.
Sandra Bullock plays a liberal lawyer who is a specialist in environmental law. Hugh Grant, is, of course, the complete opposite – a billionaire real estate tycoon, out of touch and arrogant to the world around him. After circumstances that lead the two to meet, Lucy begins working for George as his Chief Council, and soon the two spend every working day together, despite being completely different. This film is one of those perfect romantic comedies where you don’t have to think too much, and the only tears you cry are happy ones.
2 – SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012)
“The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That’s guaranteed. I can’t begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else. But guess what? Sunday’s my favourite day again. I think of what everyone did for me, and I feel like a very lucky guy.”
When I first watched this movie I cried my little heart out. The idea of someone loving you no matter what your flaws or your bad parts gave me hopes that I would find that sort of love in the future. Luckily I have, but I still cry just as hard when I watch this film. Once again it’s the rawness of love and mental illness really speak to me.
Love in Silver Linings Playbook isn’t full of grand gestures or over the top crying in the rain, it’s messy and it’s complicated and it’s hard. It’s real. Both Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper’s performances and portrayals of dealing with a mental illness are incredibly realistic and emotional to watch. The film makes us really root for their happiness and the hope that they will be able to leave their pasts behind.
1 – JANE EYRE (2011)
“You, sir, are the most phantom-like of all.”
Of course, I knew of the story of Jane Eyre, despite never reading the book (I know I’m terrible!) but nothing had prepared me for when I had watched the 2011 version of Jane Eyre. You know the story – Jane is an orphan and has a hard life. She soon becomes a Governess a young French orphan girl who is under the care of Mr Rochester. Of course, they both begin to fall in love with each other…but I won’t say any more in case you haven’t heard of what happens next.
I think Mr Rochester’s sternness and Jane’s fiery personality are some of the key elements which make this love story transcend through time and still resonate with people despite being written by Charlotte Bronte in 1847. Jane’s unwillingness to be treated less than because of her social status is empowering and how she slowly breaks away at Mr Rochester’s guarded heart is something we can all perhaps relate to in some way. Even now in 2017, it’s still considered unmanly or feminine for men to be honest and open about their true feelings of love, so when a man does, it can seem like an incredible bearing of the soul.
And then, of course, the ending, oh the ending. I sob my heart out long after the credits start rolling.
What are your favourite romantic films? Let me know in the comments, and have a great Valentines Day!
Psycho Cinderella ❤