By Amelia Jacob, First Year, English Literature
The season of love has arrived yet again, and with it the compulsive need to watch every romance film that has ever been released (or at least for me anyway). To make this choice easier for you, I’ve rummaged my way through the options and compiled a short list of the best love stories to enjoy, regardless of your relationship status.
- Sleepless in Seattle (1993) Dir. Nora Ephron
Would it be a real Valentine’s Day film list without the mandatory Nora Ephron recommendation? Sleepless in Seattle’s story of love at first broadcast is just as charming as Ephron’s writing on When Harry Met Sally (1989), yet arguably showcases Meg Ryan in a far more likeable role.
The film follows the burgeoning romance of Sam and Annie, the former a recently bereaved single father, and the latter a reporter, who happens to come across a radio show on which Sam appears at the request of his young son. Annie falls in love instantly, and a series of near-misses and yearning glances subsequently cements this romance’s status in film history.
2. Waves (2019) Dir. Trey Edward Shults
Trey Edward Shults’ first foray into the romance genre was Waves, a visual feast of fluorescent beaches and Floridian greenery set to a stunning soundtrack. The music is a consistent background presence, ranging from Kanye West to Alabama Shakes, and informs both love stories depicted in the film in unique and emotionally affecting ways.
The narrative of Waves follows an unusual path about half-way through the story, in which both protagonists – the troubled wrestler Tyler, and his quiet sister, Emily – undergo transformative romances that change their lives, whilst balancing pressures concerning family dynamics and social judgement. It’s a real tearjerker, so be prepared!
3. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Dir. Danny Boyle
Hear me out, I know Dev Patel’s breakthrough role as Jamal in Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire might not be the romantic hero that immediately comes to mind. However, the film is underscored by the importance of love, and in particular how the romance between Jamal and Latika (Freida Pinto) sustains Jamal in difficult circumstances.
The film portrays his early years as a child in the slums of Mumbai with Latika, up to his coming of age as a young man, where he gets involved in a gameshow which will permanently alter his and his family’s destiny. The chemistry between Patel and Pinto is the real highlight of the film; I highly recommend you witness it.
4. But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) Dir. Jamie Babitt
A light-hearted pick amongst this list, although out of context Jamie’s Babitt’s irreverent story of a closeted lesbian sent off to a conversion program doesn’t seem like the kind of subject a romantic comedy would work well with. Truthfully, But I’m a Cheerleader’s satirical portrayal of Megan Bloomfield’s eventual self-acceptance and romance with Graham (Clea DuVall) despite the difficulties in opposing her conversion therapy, humourously and sweetly dissects sexuality and gender expectations in a way that remains relatable and current.
The film’s highly saturated staging and use of colour has also contributed to its cult status, offering an alternative to some traditional Valentine’s Day films.
5. Casablanca (1942) Dir. Michael Curtiz
‘We’ll always have Paris’ – Michael Curtiz’s iconic Casablanca has infiltrated pop culture to the extent that its dialogue is immediately recognisable without ever having seen the film.
The timeless romance between Ilse and Rick feels as relevant now as it was at the time of release, with the film marking Ilse Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and her arrival in Casablanca, husband in tow, where her former lover Rick (Humphrey Bogart) now operates a secretive cafe and gambling den.
Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, their reunion re-ignites a passion in both characters that threatens the security of the new lives they have both created. To finish this list, Casablanca truly provides the best of old Hollywood acting and understated glamour in this deeply romantic story. If you haven’t got ‘As Time Goes By’ stuck in your head by the end of the film, I can’t relate to you…
Featured Image: IMDB
What's your favourite romantic classic?