HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
My blog buddy Cindy Bruchman and I have been thinking about collaborating on a post and since V-day is around the corner, we decided on a topic about cinematic love stories that are dear to our hearts.
We’re talking about films that has a love story that we often revisit again and again because it touches us in a way that no other love stories did. It doesn’t even have to be a romantic film, as love stories can exist within a variety of genres.
So here are six picks from each of us…
The love stories in film which have lodged in my heart bear a similar theme. I have agonized with the characters and felt their pain. Yes, infatuation and adoration is quaint, but love is complicated. Dark. Painful. Unrequited. Denied. Disappointing. A conglomerate of emotions, it brings out the worst and best in you. I salute everyone who has experienced and survived love. It truly is all you need and what the world needs now.
Here are my favorite six films about love:
The Age of Innocence (1993)
Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel, The Age of Innocence, features Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer at their best. For years, I contemplated why, oh why, didn’t Newland Archer claim Ellen Olenska for his own when he was finally free to do so? It took a couple of decades, but now I understand.
1. He was devoted to convention. Here the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” applies.
2. The beauty of her and their love was pure, avoiding time’s tarnishing power. In his mind, their love lived on in glorious perfection complete with reciprocating passion and submission. To resume would pop that vision he nurtured for decades. Oscar Wilde would have approved the ending.
The Painted Veil (2006)
Another satisfying adaptation, this W. Somerset Maugham’s tale of married couple, Kitty and Walter Fane, who travel great distances emotionally and physically, come together as companions and experience selfless love. It’s a film where feelings go backwards from discontent to liberation. The power of love and their “falling” is as beautiful as the film’s location in rural China.
West Side Story (1961)
This Romeo and Juliet version set in NYC is timeless. Jerome Robbins’s direction/choreography and Leonard Bernstein’s score have never been bested, and I doubt a picture will ever capture the energy and the dark side of love between ethnic rivals, the Jets and Sharks, as did the 1961 film version. Maria comes of age as the Puerto Rican sister whose brother is gang leader of the Sharks. By the film’s end, she is a woman who understands that the merging of two people with all its dimensions create a new entity. With the strength of two, life isn’t so scary anymore. God gives his glowing approval through the cross paneled window at the mock wedding. I love the simple harmony of this duet. And of course, the prophesy, “Only death can part us now.” Where’s my Kleenex?
Oh, poor misunderstood, Frau Lieberman. Devlin, you idiot, taking so long to realize her love for you was true and you loved her back. This is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film.
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
I reckon it’s the musical score and the clifftop scene that makes me ache for Lizzie. Two lovers in denial eventually need a walk at dawn’s early light to come face to face and honor each other. Mr. Darcy is perfect. So is Keira Knightley. Did I mention the score?
The Notebook (2004)
Okay, I know it’s sentimental beyond belief, but it’s the James Garner and Gena Rowlands story that has me bawling, for at the end of your life, I predict all that matters is that your true love was there by your side. Even when dementia kicks in. I can’t imagine a more heartbreaking, yet fulfilling ending to a life than knowing one experienced that type of love. How proud one would feel knowing it!
My thanks to Ruth at Flixchatter for pairing up with me on Valentine’s Day. Love, love, love.
Romance at the movies are perhaps rosier than they are in real life. But the ones that often leave a lasting impression are the ones that love stories that aren’t the happy-ever-after variety. As Cindy said above, love is indeed complicated. But don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s not worth it. The struggle these couples go through moved me to tears, more so than a lot of other movie romances I’ve seen over the years. Some stories have such an enduring quality, and will likely be my lifetime favorites. Some of them are my picks of unconventional love stories I posted five years ago, but I had to include two films I saw last year, two VERY different love stories that has to overcome various barriers.
Sense & Sensibility
It’s no surprise to people who read this blog how much I adore this movie. Many of the main characters suffer for love, but none more so than Col. Brandon and Elinor, both are so tormented for their feelings for Edward and Marianne respectively. If there’s a love story that exemplifies 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 that’s often-quoted at weddings, it’d be THIS. Neither Brandon nor Elinor wallowed in self pity, and their love is patient, kind and not self-seeking. THIS scene is why Brandon is one of my favorite period drama heroes:
There are many memorable quotes from the film but this one never fails to move me to tears whenever I watch that scene…
“…It is bewitching in the idea of one’s happiness entirely depending on one person”
A Walk in the Clouds
I know most of you probably scoff when you see Keanu Reeves as the lead but then you’d be missing out. Aside from all the bad ass sci-fi and action flicks, Reeves make for a pretty convincing romantic lead, too. Here he plays a soldier on the way home from war to be with his wife when he bumps (literally) into Victoria Aragorn on a bus, a woman 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. There’s a warm chemistry between him and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, and there’s a palpable earnestness in Keanu that sweeps me off my feet. I doesn’t hurt that the film is set in the lush and romantic scenery of the Napa vineyards. Victoria aptly refers to it as ‘the clouds’ as it definitely gets you in head-in-the-clouds frame of mind.
Somewhere in Time
There’s a bit of the hopeless romantic in me and this fantastical time-travel love story gets me every time. It’s always best to have a box of tissue handy whenever I watch this film as it just moves me to my core. He’s most famous for playing Superman, and he shall always be my favorite in that role, but this one shows Christopher Reeve‘s also a capable romantic lead. Reeve’s a playwright who fell in love with a photo of a beautiful actress in the Grand Hotel gallery, he used a self-hypnosis method to transport himself to 1912. The way he looked at Jane Seymour always took my breath away, and you just ache for them to be together. John Barry’s sweeping score is as beautiful as it is haunting, practically woven into the plot that it’s impossible to separate the music from the movie. There’s not many film as unabashedly romantic as this one, its melancholic tone is part of its charm.
Oh how I love LOVE this film… it’s just sweepingly beautiful. One of the things I love about this film is the heartfelt love story that developed between Belle and her family’s vicar’s son, John Davinier. Gugu Mbatha-Raw‘s affecting performance is deeply moving that I long for her to find happiness she deserves. Both Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid have such a scorching chemistry that made for some breathless moments. The strict societal norm was made even more convoluted by the fact that Belle was a Black woman living in an upper class British society under Lord Mansfield’s care, so naturally that was a major hurdle for them.
I love their passionate convictions and their longing for each other is heart-wrenching. That scene when John carefully touched Belle’s hand by the window… and that night when he suddenly pulled her close in the garden… oh be still my heart. At one point, John was so overcome with emotions that he yelled to Mansfield that he loves her, with every breath he breathes… it I always feel a lump on my throat every time I watched it.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
It’s too bad this film was barely marketed as it’s a beautiful and poignantly-moving look at love and loss. I don’t want to give anything away but what I can say is how the film is grounded in realism and excellently portrayed by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. I could almost feel their heartache. Their agonizing pain was so unbearable that one of them resorted to drastic measures. But it’s also an affecting depiction of not giving up on love and the belief that it could overcome even a seemingly insurmountable grief. There is a scene of McAvoy alone in a long-abandoned apartment that moved me to tears and later joined by Chastain. The way they conveyed such deep emotional heartbreak felt so real and it made me think how I’d react if I were in their shoes. I pictured how my own friends would be in such a situation, that’s how involving the story was.
One of the best classic rom-coms ever, Roman Holiday just never gets old. I posted my 59 reasons I love this movie already, I love how it manages to be fluffy & playful but also deep & heart-wrenching. True love is transformative and sacrificial… Joe Bradley went from the rogue-ish, self-serving reporter to the sincere, compassionate, love-stricken man who no longer had it in him to sell the Princess story for his own gain.
A recent Thursday Movie Pick series was on the topic of unrequited love – and this is one of them that sprang up to mind.
Oh this finale gets me every single time. It’s absolute perfection in its depiction of unrequited love… Perfect in its elegant simplicity… quiet yet packs such an emotional punch. I don’t think I’ve ever loved Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck more than in this very scene, followed by THAT walk of Peck’s character… alone as everyone else’s left the building, there’s sadness in his eyes but you [hope] there’s a hint of contentment that he’s done the right thing.
Hope you enjoyed our picks of cinematic love stories! Now tell us which movie romances left you breathless 😉
36 thoughts on “Valentine Special – A Dozen Cinematic Romances We LOVE”
What a fantastic set of romantic films, you two. Cindy, double-fist pump for NOTORIOUS and THE NOTEBOOK (a favorite of the late-James Garner, too). Ruth, you know already I’m so with you in regard to A WALK IN THE CLOUDS, SOMEWHERE IN TIME, and with our Audrey in ROMAN HOLIDAY.
Simply wonderful. 🙂
Thanks Michael! I still need to see Notorious, but I love the Garner/Rowland pairing in The Notebook. Glad we share the love for those three films, they just never got old for me, forever favorites I’d say. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Thanks, Michael 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day!
Great lists, I also really love The Age of Innocence and I am determined to see Belle one of these days! One of my favorite romantic films is Jane Eyre with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, they are both perfect in heir roles!
Thanks Sherise! I really hope you’d check out Belle soon, maybe this weekend? 😉 Such an enchanting story, it’ll likely be my eternal fave. I love the Jane Eyre story that’s been done so many times over, but I’d have to say my fave is the 2006 BBC version w/ Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens!
Cindy, Pride & Prejudice would be my favorite of yours listed above. Such great chemistry between Knightly and Macfadyen.
Ruth, I’d have to say Sense & Sensibility is my favorite of your picks. It looks like a Jane Austen sweep all around. Still have to see Belle though.
I do love P&P too, I just didn’t want to have two Austen on my list, but I actually love the Knightley & Macfayden version more than the Colin Firth one. Please see BELLE soon, you already know I’m slightly obsessed w/ that one… and miss Gugu 🙂
Hey, great to see Somewhere in Time on there!
Glad to hear you’re a fan of that movie, too, Mark!
Loved the write-up ladies! Roman Holiday made me smile. But at the risk of sounding repetitive, Casablanca is one of the most romantic movies to me. Granted, it is a movie about so much more, but that central romance between Rick and Ilsa is fabulous. Love it!
Thanks Keith! Oh I’m so with you about Casablanca, it’s that unrequited love again that’s so heart-wrenching and beautifully-portrayed. In a way, the ending share some similarities w/ Roman Holiday in that true love means letting go.
Yes, Casablanca surely was a contender! I never tire watching it. Happy Valentine’s Day, Keith
You too Cindy! Have a great one.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Ruth! Hope you and your husband have a wonderful evening 🙂 Great lists 🙂
Thank you Fernando! Happy V-day to you my friend, and thanks for being such a great friend!
Aww, likewise! 🙂
Excellent picks all around!
Both Somewhere in Time and A Walk in the Clouds have heartbreakingly beautiful scores that enhance and support their stories. The first so difficult to watch at the end. The second so uplifting despite the destruction of “The Clouds.”
Hello Diane! I’m thrilled that you love both of those films and amen on your comments about the finale. I always have a box of tissue handy whenever I watch Somewhere in Time, Chris Reeve’s expression when they found him slumping in his room is utterly heartbreaking, but there is a bit of hope too as they’re *reunited* in the after life.
And I was considering entering The Notebook for Shitfest…
Oh no! I have to admit though I’m not as fond of Gosling/McAdams but I found the scenes of the older version of the characters quite inspiring.
I just saw Belle a few days ago. Great film. I like A Walk in the Clouds. It’s a flawed film but Keanu was awesome as is the gorgeous photography of Chivo. Alan Rickman in Sense & Sensibility is perfect. West Side Story is a film I sort of have a love-hate relationship with. I love the supporting cast but I don’t like the leads.
I just read your review of BELLE! Hurray, I’m glad you love it too. I agree A Walk in the Clouds is not perfect and perhaps even too fantastical but it’s enchanting. But Rickman as Brandon is like you said, absolutely perfect, perhaps the best romantic period drama hero there ever was.
Great list, Ruth! All I could see was the old couple from the notebook before I had to tell myself, “NO..NO..DON’T CRY.” So great.
Hi Courtney! Yeah, the older couple in The Notebook definitely is the most heart-wrenching parts of the film for me.
Love that you paired with Cindy for this, and that your lists show such range of ‘couples’. I really need to see ‘Rigby’…so badly! I also love the inclusion of ‘The Painted Veil’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’…and ‘BELLE’!!!!!
Thanks Drew! I think you’d love ‘Rigby,’ both Chastain & McAvoy are superb. I could NOT leave out Belle, it’s so beautifully made and it currently rates as one of my fave period dramas ever! Right up there w/ my all time fave Sense & Sensibility 😉
Excellent work ladies, I actually just reviewed Pride & Prejudice on my blog.
Thanks Vinnie! Glad you enjoyed P&P, too! 😀
Sorry I’m so late to this one ladies but it’s a fine post. I’m not a romantic movie type of guy but I was surprised by how many I actually like on these list. A Painted Veil, The Age Of Innocence. I also have a a fondness for A walk In the Clouds (and our Chuck) and I’m really lolling forward to Eleanor Rigby. Tell me Ruth, what version of that film did you see? Was it Him, Her or Them?
Hey no such thing as a late comment Mark. Glad to hear we share some faves. Oh I think you’d love Eleanor Rigby, it’s beautiful & heartbreaking. I saw the ‘Them’ version as that was what’s available at the time, but I’m keen on checking out the His/Her versions too. As for Chuck, I think he makes for a convincing romantic hero!
Nicely done ladies! Ruth, I hoped you would include The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and you didn’t disappoint. 😉 One of my favorite cinematic romances is Jesse and Celine from Linklater’s Before trilogy, especially in Before Sunset. That movie is so wonderfully romantic.
Thanks Josh! I couldn’t NOT include ‘Eleanor Rigby’ it’s such a heart-wrenching love story, and I love both Chastain and McAvoy. I’ve only seen one of the three ‘Before’ trilogy but yeah, the first one was very romantic indeed.
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