Thursday Movie Picks: Romance Tropes Edition – Forbidden Love

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday! It’s TMP time! The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Romance Tropes Edition: Forbidden Love.

There are plenty to choose for this week’s topic, which actually makes it harder. Well, I’m going with films that people might not have seen yet, and not one most people would automatically think of when they hear the term forbidden love.

In any case, here are my picks:

NEVER LET ME GO (2010)

The lives of three friends, from their early school days into young adulthood, when the reality of the world they live in comes knocking.

I reviewed this movie nearly a decade ago and it’s the kind of film you should know as least as possible before watching. It’s a sci-fi drama starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield who grew up together in school, and there’s a love triangle that happen between them when they grow up.

Based on a book by Kazuo Ishiguro, directed by Mark Romanek based on a script by Alex Garland‘s (28 Days Later, Ex Machina), the romantic drama sensibilities offers a stark contrast to the cerebral sci-fi nature of the story. Lets just say it’s one of the most haunting film I’ve ever seen as you learn the predestined fate that await these characters.

Fun Trivia:
Keira Knightley admitted that she only agreed to appear in the film because her friend and co-star Carey Mulligan had asked her to. She said she was unable to relate to Ruth’s involvement in a love triangle.


LOVING (2016)

The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple whose arrest for interracial marriage in 1960s Virginia began a legal battle that would end with the Supreme Court’s historic 1967 decision.

I’ve reviewed this one as well and if you haven’t seen it yet, well, might be good to catch this during Black History Month. It’s really astonishing that this happened not that long ago… I’d like to think hope we’ve come a long way since then.

Jeff Nichols is such a talented and sensitive filmmaker and I like that this film highlights the then-forbidden love between the couple, instead of just using their story to make a political statement. Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton beautifully portrayed Mildred and Richard with such quiet grace and sincerity. It’s an understated performance that speaks volumes and conveys the tension as well as poignancy of what they went through.

Fun Trivia:
Director Jeff Nichols was able to tell the story of the Loving family as accurately as possible by relying on Nancy Buirski’s documentary The Loving Story (2011), which captured many details of their private lives.


Suite Française (2014)

During the early years of Nazi occupation of France in World War II, romance blooms between Lucile Angellier, a French villager, and Lieutenant Bruno von Falk, a German soldier.

I have to admit I saw this because of Sam Riley whom I had a huge crush on a few years back, but it also has a great cast including Kristin Scott Thomas, Margot Robbie. The forbidden romance is between Michelle Williams‘ character who falls for a Nazi soldier played by Matthias Schoenaerts. Being in love with the enemy certainly is one of the more popular forbidden romance set during wartime.

Schoenaerts is quite an underrated actor and he’s really good in period romance (love him as Gabriel Oak in Far From The Madding Crowd). The way he looks at a woman he loves… well, that’s the stuff memorable romance is made of. There’s a breathless chemistry between him and Michelle, all stolen glances and repressed passion. This movie ends up being a pleasant surprise about love & survival, right down to its poignant ending.

Fun Trivia:
Margot Robbie and Third Assistant Director Tom Ackerley met and began dating during the filming of this movie. They married in 2016.

Sam Riley (Benoit Labarie) and Alexandra Maria Lara (Leah) are married in real life.

The Lover (1992)

In 1929 French Indochina, a French teenage girl embarks on a reckless and forbidden romance with a wealthy, older Chinese man, each knowing that knowledge of their affair will bring drastic consequences to each other.

I saw this film ages ago, the details are a bit hazy to me now. Yet it’s definitely one of the most indelible forbidden love stories I remember, and the film is quite risqué as well. Directed by acclaimed French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud (who also made The Name of the Rose with its own forbidden romance elements), it’s actually based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras.

Jane March and Tony Ka Fai Leung played the lovers in the film, and there are plenty of explicit sex scenes that’s quite scandalous given March was only 17 or 18 at the time. In the book, the girl is 15 so it’s also a story of sexual awakening. Annaud also shot the sex scenes in a very intimate, believable way, which at times were tough to watch. I don’t watch too many erotic films so this is one of the few films I’ve seen with such unbridled sexuality. But The Lover is also emotionally nuanced so their sexual relationship is more than skin-deep. If you’re curious about this one, it’s also deliberately slow-paced, as some would call poetically-slow, but that’s par the course with Annaud’s films.

Fun Trivia:
Jane March’s first acting role. In an interview with the L.A. Times in Oct. 1992, she said “I had never done a movie in my life. I had never acted before. The first time I saw the film complete, I sat in the screening room and cried. It was the end of my adventure, the end of my first escapade in life.”


So who are YOUR favorite movies about Forbidden Romance?

21 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks: Romance Tropes Edition – Forbidden Love

  1. I was doing so well with your first two but ended up with a 50/50 split on them.

    I didn’t much care for Never Let Me Go despite being a fan of both actresses, it has however been a long time so perhaps on a rewatch I’ll like it more.

    Loving tells a powerful, moving story with those ace lead performances. Times are better but there are still terrible close-minded people who still have problems with the idea of interracial relationships (and just about everything else too).

    Suite Francaise is one I’ve long wanted to see but for whatever reason it is difficult to find. I’m a fan of everyone in the cast, especially KST so it’s absolutely on my to see list. I thought Schoenaerts was good in this latest version of Far from the Madding Crowd but not the match of Alan Bates in the original (but then I didn’t think anyone or anything was as good in the newer film than the first).

    The Lover isn’t nearly as high on my list as Suite but I do plan to see it eventually.

    I thought of Loving initially (along with Brokeback Mountain & Romeo and Juliet) but decided to do a deep dive and look for three that dealt with the forbidden aspect in different ways.

    Broken Blossoms (1919)-Chinese immigrant Cheng Huan’s (Richard Barthelmess) dream of spreading Buddhism to London has dissipated and he has sunken into aimless opium addiction until he finds young English waif Lucy Burrows (Lillian Gish) battered on his doorstep. Renewed by their emotional connection he cares for her as she recovers, but their forbidden love across ethnic boundaries is riven when they are discovered by Lucy’s abusive father (Donald Crisp).

    Death Takes a Holiday (1934)-Unable to comprehend why people cling so tenaciously to life Death (Fredric March) assumes human form as Prince Sirki at Duke Lambert’s Italian villa. Mixing with his guests in an attempt to gain insight he meets the beautiful Grazia (Evelyn Venable). Instantly attracted to each other Sirki and she wrestle with the impossibility and the forbidden nature of their love.

    Dirty Dancing (1987)-Teenager Baby (Jennifer Grey) is vacationing with her family at a Catskills resort in the 60’s when she meets dance instructor Johnny (Patrick Swayze). Through a series of events they become involved but the lovers face several obstacles including the dual facts that Johnny is forbidden to fraternize with the guests and Baby is likewise forbidden from seeing the older Johnny by her father (Jerry Orbach).

    1. Hey Joel, I hope you’d give Never Let Me Go another chance… I find it absolutely moving and riveting, and good sci-fi romances are quite rare.

      Suite Francaise was on Netflix for a while I thought, and also on Amazon Prime. Well worth a watch for sure.

      I haven’t seen your first two picks but thanks for the recommendations. As for Dirty Dancing, what a great choice. I didn’t think it isn’t a tragic romance like many forbidden love stories but you’re right she was forbidden to date Johnny as he’s much older.

  2. I didn’t enjoy Never Let Me Go, but that may be partly because I studied it at school!

    I love Suite Francaise though- it’s up there as one of my favourite films. The book is also fantastic if you haven’t read it (the film is based on part of it). It’s rare for me to really enjoy the film adaptation of a book I love, but Suite Francaise is one of the exceptions!

    1. Hi Rhiannon, did you study Never Let Me Go the novel? I haven’t read it yet but novels are usually better than the film adaptation so I don’t blame you. I do find it so beautifully haunting and I didn’t know the characters’ identity until I watched it.

      That’s great to hear about Suite Francause though, I might try to read the book one day though I usually would rather read books that I don’t know the plot ahead of time.

      1. Yes it was one of our texts for gcse and I watched the film at the time- but I didn’t really enjoy either. I think when you study something you either grow to love it or hate it and, though I don’t hate Never Let Me Go, it’s not a favourite. I can definitely see why you (and lots of other people!) enjoyed it, just don’t think it’s my cup of tea. I haven’t seen it in years though so might give it another look.

        I would definitely recommend reading Suite Francaise, especially if you’re interested in ww2. I saw the film before reading it and it didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all! If anything, I read it little quicker as I knew the characters/story.

        1. I hear ya, I suppose one can’t explain why you like or don’t like something.

          I do like WWII stuff and the story of Suite Francaise is intriguing. I think you’re right, knowing the basic plot and characters would make reading quicker. I’m actually still reading books on the Medici family since I loved Medici: the Magnificent series on Netflix! I highly recommend that if you like historical dramas.

  3. Not a genre I typically seek out but I did see some good ones about this subject. From the early 90s, Jungle Fever and Mississippi Masala.

    I still have yet to see Never Let Me Go, I really liked the book. Can’t believe it’s been over a decade since that film came out!

    1. Oh yeah, Mississippi Masala is a great one! I actually just saw it recently and though I wasn’t in love with it, it’s still a good movie.

      I remember you like Alex Garland’s work right? Then I think you’ll like Never Let Me Go, it’s not your typical sci-fi film which for me adds to the allure.

  4. Suite Francaise is the one film on that list I haven’t seen but I like all of your other picks. The Lover is a film I don’t think is one that kids should see until they’re…. 18. Never Let Me Go is the best of the bunch as I just LOVE that film.

    1. Oh yeah absolutely, The Lover got a hard R rating and some of the scenes can be considered soft porn. It’s not something I typically watch but the story is actually fascinating and based on someone’s memoir.

      Glad you have seen Never Let Me Go and loved it!

      1. I can’t believe I made that suggestion that people at the age of 18 should see that film. Then again, I’m not in my 20s anymore. I have a 22-month old nephew and a niece coming next month and that is not the kind of film I would show them until they’re mature enough. Never Let Me Go on the other hand is something I would show them when they’re in high school.

        1. I think 18 is the minimum age that people should see this film, maybe even 20 as like you said, the subject matter is very mature. Though in terms of sex I think even pre-teen have been subjected to more of that in premium cable.

          As for Never Let Me Go, yes I think high school age would be appropriate to watch it, though it’s such a slow-paced film, not sure if it can hold their attention.

  5. I haven’t heard Never Let Me Go, and it’s seems right up my alley. Thanks for that. Ang Lee films deal with forbidden love: Brokeback Mt. and Lust, Caution come to mind. Romeo and Juliet.,.,.

    1. Hello Cindy! Yes I think you’d definitely appreciate Never Let Me Go. I haven’t seen Lust, Caution but I’d imagine it’s as risque as The Lover. Ang Lee actually made a forbidden gay romance before Brokeback called The Wedding Banquet, it’s far less tragic though.

  6. I’ve seen your first two picks. I enjoyed, but didn’t quite love Never Let Me Go. To be honest, I feel like I need to give it a second watch, though. I did love Loving. The performances are amazing, and you are correct that Jeff Nichols handled it very sensitively.

    1. I understand why many people aren’t in love with Never Let Me Go but I think it does deserve another look. I find it so moving and heartbreaking.

      Loving is indeed well-crafted and well-acted all around. I feel that it deserves more love/attention from the film community.

  7. Pingback: The Alliance Lately: Issue No. 23 – The Minnesota Film Critics Alliance

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