Roman Holiday (1953)
Gregory Peck is a reporter looking for his big story while Audrey Hepburn is a Princess trying to escape her predetermined fate. The two meet; they have lovely excursions on the streets of Rome and strike up a handsome and longing chemistry.
Jules et Jim (1962)
An emotional ménage à trois of sorts with three beautiful people on the French countryside. Two best friends and a girl they meet and both fall in love with. It’s a twisted fairytale with grim endings but it’s worth it. François Truffaut shoots it with both a carefree and gloomy atmosphere so that we’re never quite swept up into the romance because we can tell the love triangle is doomed.
Before there was Fifty Shades of Grey there was a good movie called Secretary. It was a fresh take on BDSM without turning the female submissive character into the victim or turning the male dominant character into an abuser. Instead, these are two souls who seek an outlet where they can play into their submissive and dominant personalities. It’s an unlikely sweet romance.
Kiss Me (2011)
I just had the pleasure of seeing this film recently and it was truly a beautiful little story. There are some soapy elements including the two protagonists meet cute which happens when the two meet through their parents engagement party but it’s largely made up for by the nuance showed throughout the rest of the film. The two women are instantly intrigued by one another and the film is shot in such a romantic manner with soft hues, dreamy lighting and charming performances, that it’s understandable why the two would fall for one another in the first place. I recommend you seeking this smaller Swedish film out on Netflix because it’s worth the time.
Obvious Child (2014)
The more I reflect on this film and the more I see of it the more certain I become that it’s one of my favorite films I’ve ever seen. We don’t get a lot of new romantic comedies that are lauded or feel fresh and Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child manage both. Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy have a sweet chemistry where despite the messy way they are introduced (a drunken one night stand that leads to an abortion) you want the two of them to pull through. The two characters both seeming like real people certainly helps. It’s the romantic comedy we all wanted and deserved in an industry that far too often doesn’t put enough time into the unfairly maligned genre.
I’m Here (2009)
No, dear reader, I have not flown off the rails. It may seem that way with one of my favorite love stories being a Spike Jonze short film about two robots in love. It’s rich in emotive narrative structure: we never see the actors but Andrew Garfield makes you able to touch the undying devotion he holds for the robot he loves. Based loosely on the story The Giving Tree it’s a film about being willing to sacrifice everything for love. It plays like a 30 minute music video and is shot in a way that hints at Jonze’s Her to come. Easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing works of art I’ve seen.
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
Okay, this is kind of a cheat but considering one of the most moving aspects of the film is the star crossed lovers romance it’s hard to convince me that I’m wrong. Above the intricately choreographed fight sequences, the otherworldly scenery and epic scope is an emotionally sound story of two individuals who were meant to be, but didn’t meet at a time willing to give them a chance. Ziyi Zhang and Takeshi Kaneshiro have a chemistry that keeps the viewer completely invested throughout the entire film and leaves you mildly devastated by the movies end.
The Sapphires (2012)
Another film that dances around the confines of the label of romance but it fits into the genre all the same. The primary focus begins as a group of Australian sisters who wish to share their music all over the world and while it keeps that thread of race relations and music it also deviates into a quietly moving romance between Gail (Deborah Mailman) and Dave (Chris O’Dowd). This romance is all the more significant since it helps tie down the fast paced movie that has a tendency to jump sporadically from one storyline to the next. O’Dowd and Mailman’s rapport and love story isn’t just one of the more rewarding in the film but also one of the more graciously consistent.
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
I’m still not convinced by Aubrey Plaza. I love her as one half to April and Andy on Park and Rec but asides from that role I’ve never been truly impressed with Plaza as an actress. Similarly, while I think Mark Duplass has an interesting voice in modern cinema I’ve never been one who’s fallen for his acting presence. Luckily, Safety Not Guaranteed does a lovely job in maneuvering certain familiar acting ticks and allowing newer ones to shine through. She plays a young journalist documenting the story of him wanting to travel through time and, as so many rom coms go, she begins to believe in him as well as time travel. There’s also the added bonus of a curmudgeon Jake Johnson which only ever helps a movie. Whimsical without being annoying and fresh with its portrayal of two oddballs, Safety Not Guaranteed is a love story for modern times with the added presence of science fiction and really, what could make a love story better than that?
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
I won’t fault you if you look at the title and declare that it’s not for you. Understandable. It’s a polarizing title that leads you to believe it will be a macabre wade into loveless abyss. You’re half right. Because while much of the movie is about people who have committed suicide who end up in an ironic purgatory that has them living worse versions of their lives AND they can’t smile a lot more of it is about finding those suited to you, makeshift families and the importance of hope. The last shot is a history book worthy last shot. It’s a dark and twisted love note to happiness.
Laurence Anyways (2013)
Xavier Dolan’s third film is a master class on how to create an emotional roller-coaster of a film. It’s a definitive epic that pits two lovers in the center. Fred and Laurence are in love, they’re reckless and abhor to a new age punk mentality but things get tough when Laurence tells Fred that she identifies as a woman. What follows is a grand look at a 15 year span of time where their love is tested, broken and rekindled. It’s a stunning portrait of kindred spirits and how love wants to conquer all.