Favorite Unconventionally-Romantic Films

Whether or not you’re spending it with a special someone — be it spending time with friends/family or simply doing something you love — I hope your day’s filled with things that bring you joy.

As I’ve mentioned in my Friday post, below are some of my favorites that don’t exactly follow the conventional formula of courtship. I certainly would rather re-watch these ten times over before I shell out my hard earned $$ to see the ensemble crap cast rom-com Valentine’s Day in the theater (but apparently I’m in the minority as it’s the number movie at the box office this weekend.

Anyhoo, here they are:….

  • Jane Austen’s movies: Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice

    Col. Brandon & Elinor in Sense & Sensibility

    Ok, so all of Austen movies do end happily. But slow-burn romances mixed with a few misunderstandings thrown in seems to be a reliable recipe for irresistible love stories. S & S is one of my all-time favorites of all genres as it’s features not one but two bewitching characters: Elinor Dashwood & Col. Brandon, whose love for Edward Ferrars and Marianne Dashwood respectively seems for a time hopelessly unrequited. But that doesn’t make them bitter or unkind, in fact, their love seems to exemplify this Bible verse: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4 … Though I’ve seen this movie a gazillion times, the scene towards the end where Elinor’s whimpering uncontrollably as she can’t contain her emotion any longer never fails to get me sobbing as well!

    On a related note, I adore Persuasion‘s story of second chance at love, though since the 1995’s version with Ciaran Hinds, there hasn’t been a decent film adaptation. The BBC version left much to be desired, mostly the lack of chemistry between the two leads (though hunky Rupert Penry-Jones makes for a striking leading man) and uninspired direction – having the heroine Anne Elliot running about town is just plain silly. With a ton of trite remakes of flicks that shouldn’t even be made in the first place, I long to see the beguiling love story between Anne and Capt. Wentworth gets a chance to come alive again on the big screen!

  • BBC’s miniseries North & South
    Mill owner John Thornton and Margaret Hale didn’t meet cute the way most rom-coms start with. In fact, they met under the most brutal of circumstances as she witnessed him beat the living daylight out of his mill employee. But love works in mysterious ways. Evidently nothing – not his possessive mother, initial prejudices, even economic collapse – can keep these two apart. When we saw this on one of our gals’ monthly movie nites, every girl in the room pretty much fell for Richard Armitage’s mesmerizing Mr. Thornton. Thornton and Margaret’s restrained passion definitely gives P&P’s beloved couple Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth Bennett a serious run for their money! If I were to make a list of best movie kisses like Hatter did, this breathtaking one at the end of this miniseries definitely takes the cake.

  • A Walk in the Clouds
    Whaddayaknow, one of my favorites Keanu Reeve’s movies is a chick flick! He isn’t the most expressive actors of the bunch, but he’s quite convincing here as a soldier who finds love when he least expects it. Paul Sutton’s just on the way home from war to be with his wife when he bumps into (literally) Victoria Aragorn on a bus who’s pregnant out of wedlock. Paul offers to pose as her husband after she tells him her traditional father would kill her if he knew her condition. He and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón share a warm chemistry, and the lush and romantic scenery of the Napa vineyards she aptly refers to as ‘the clouds’ definitely gets you in head-in-the-clouds frame of mind.
  • P.S. I Love You
    I’m still puzzled as to why the critics hate this movie so much. Everyone I talked to, even my guy friends + my hubby, actually enjoyed it, even if they won’t openly admit so. The opening scene of a married couple bickering in their apartment is both funny, sweet and surprisingly real. I also LOVE the catchy tune Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken by Camera Obscura in the beginning credits! At first I thought Hillary Swank is miscast in the role of Holly but given the weighty subject of dealing with the loss of a husband, she actually offers the right balance of pathos and exuberance her character needs. Gerry Butler follows his ultra-machismo role in 300 by playing the goofy but tender-hearted dead husband. The flashback scenes show him at his funniest and most appealing, he’s so darn charming you’ll be more than willing to forgive him for his ghastly Irish accent 🙂 The best part is, I love how this movie leaves the ending open for possibilities, instead of rushing to pair Holly with another soul mate that sweeps her off her feet.

  • Lost in Translation
    Arguably one of Bill Murray’s best roles – and perhaps Scarlett Johansson’s as well – it’s a poignant tale of an unlikely friendship of a jaded movie star and a young neglected newlywed that grew into something more. I know this movie’s kind of an acquired taste as some people actually loathe it, but I though it’s not exactly ‘entertaining’ from start to finish, this movie had me in tears both in laughter and sadness. The ‘lip my stocking’ and other thigh-slapping scenes are obviously hilarious, but they’re not just ‘ha-ha’ funny as they’re tinged with heartache. Their unconsummated May-December romance is heartfelt and beautifully acted, and the unsugar-coated ending is exquisitely touching.
  • Return to Me
    I’ve written a whole post dedicated to this movie for good reason. The relationship of Bob & Grace is as unconventional as they come, and David Duchovny and Minnie Driver definitely deserves a spot in top ten movie couples list..
  • (500) Days of Summer (full review)
    I don’t think I need to explain this one. Billed as the anti rom-com, it’s a fresh and inventive look at relationship and how expectations hardly ever translate to reality. Great performances, witty script and innovative direction makes this one of the best modern love story of this generation.
  • Roman Holiday
    I absolutely adore this movie! The best love story is the unexpected kind, and neither Princess Anne nor American reporter Joe Bradley ever set out to fall for each other. Two extremely charismatic actors, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, plus the enchanting city of Rome they wander though makes for a lovely, whimsical and downright romantic classic. Despite the dreamy quality, I love how this movie has the good sense of not resorting to some fanciful, far-fetched denouement. In fact, the movie is all the more sweeter and meaningful because of it.
  • The Painted Veil
    Unlike a lot of romances, this one actually happens after the wedding.
    The story takes place in China in the 1920s, which tells the story of a mid-class doctor (Ed Norton) who marries an upper-class woman (Naomi Watts) and moves to Shanghai. As I said in my full review, it’s a rare gem that tells a wonderful human drama without being too cutesy or overly romantic. Love is more than a bed of roses or candlelit dinner, sometimes it’s mystifying and even thorny, but always worth fighting for.
  • Somewhere in Time
    For the hopeless romantic in all of us, this fantastical time-travel love story gets me every time. It’s an absolute requirement to have a box of tissue handy when you watch this movie. Forget Lois Lane. Christopher Reeve’s most heartbreaking movie romance is with Jane Seymour, as he won’t let the 60-year span between them get in the way.

    After falling in love with a photo of the beautiful actress Elise McKenna, playwright Richard Collier self-hypnotizes and wills himself to be transported back to 1912. He ends up meeting the woman of his dreams and they fall in love, but between Elise’s jealous manager (Christopher Plummer) and the time matter itself, can their love survive? If you’re not moved by John Barry’s lush score and the haunting Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini that runs throughout the film, you ought to check your pulse.

I realize with a list like this, I probably commit a ‘sin of omission’ either because my memory fails me, or I simply have not had the pleasure of seeing those you don’t see on this list, as some fellow bloggers have already pointed out last Friday.

So readers, what else have I missed? Please sound off in the comment section.

17 thoughts on “Favorite Unconventionally-Romantic Films

  1. PrairieGirl

    One of my all-time favs is The Purple Rose of Cairo. Mia Farrow is stuck in a dead-end job and burdened with an abusive husband. She sees one movie so often that the film’s lead (played wonderfully by Jeff Daniels) walks off the screen and into her life. A very inventive fantasy, with a not-your-typical ending. Also like The Woodlanders (Rufus Sewell), Untamed Heart (Christian Slater, Marisa Tomei), The Notebook and Waitress. Like all your picks except Lost in Translation – for the life of me I can’t see the point of that movie. And (500) Days of Summer is now in my queue. Happy Love Day!

    1. Oh I haven’t seen that one, Becky, but I quite like Jeff Daniels. A Rufus movie, surprise, surprise, but hey you don’t have to tell me twice, I’ll put that on my ‘to watch’ list for sure. We talked about ‘Untamed Heart’ the other day, I love that one, I didn’t know it was set in Minnesota! Still have to see ‘The Waitress’ since I like Nathan Fillion.

      As for ‘Lost in Translation’, I don’t blame you for feeling ‘meh’ about it, a lot of people I know didn’t like it either. But for some reason, both Ivan and I liked it a lot. But then again, we both like Bill Murray a lot, too.

      1. PrairieGirl

        Actually, it’s Dianne Wiest. The IMDb genre says “Comedy/Drama/Fantasy/Romance.” Who could ask for more in a movie? ;-).
        And how could we NOT have Gerry AND Rufus on our favorite romantic movies list? Gerry is wonderful in P.S. I Love You (number 41 on the Netflix Top 100 – who cares what the critics say), and Rufus is touching in The Woodlanders.

  2. Holy Hannah…I’d almost forgotten about A WALK IN THE CLOUDS. I haven’t seen that one in years. A lot of the visuals of it have stuck with me over the years, especially the moment in your screengrab where they are trying to keep the frost fropm permeating the crops.

    Good call!

    1. Glad to hear you like that one too, Hatter! I think the gorgeous cinematography of the vineyard, as well as the romantic aura of the movie definitely makes this one memorable. But Keanu really surprised me here, and he actually could hold his own opposite Anthony Quinn and Giancarlo Giannini, which is no small feat.

  3. mcarteratthemovies

    My, my how shocking to see a Gerard Butler movie in this list! 🙂

    I always liked “Return to Me” because Minnie Driver is such an unexpected choice for a leading lady and the film has such an inventive story.

    Some other *unconventional* gems I might include: “Kissing Jessica Stein,” about a neurotic NYC woman who falls for a woman; “Harold and Maude,” about a life-loving octogenarian who strikes up a relationship with a morbid 20-something; “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” which tells a love story in the craziest way imaginable; and “Muriel’s Wedding,” more about learning to love oneself than romantic love.

    1. Trust me, Meredith, I didn’t go out of my way to include a GB flick… but you know I love P.S. I love you and Swank is an ‘unconventional’ choice who actually works well in the role. Glad to hear you like Minnie, too, I think she is a good actress who’s hugely underrated, not to mention underused! But as you can see in ‘Return to Me’ she’s got such warmth and comic timing.

      I’ve heard a lot about Harold & Maude, definitely add that to my ‘must-see’ list, the same with last two you mentioned. I don’t know why I haven’t seen those since I adore Winslet and Toni Collete!

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  6. coco

    BBC’s North and South is my all time favourite romantic story. I have yet to find something that could top that; although the 1993 remake of Corazon Salvaje is a close second. (The 2009 version is a fiasco and a disgrace, but the 1993 story of Juan and Monica would make any gal swoon).

    1. Hi there, welcome to FC! Yes, N&S is indeed hard to top. I love it as it’s so much more than just romance, there’s a lot of economics, business and even political stuff woven into the story. I haven’t seen Corazon Salvaje, I’m curious about that now.

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