|BEST ROMANTIC FILMS IN THE LAST DECADE|
|ARTICLES - FILM|
|Written by Kindah Mardam Bey|
|Monday, 13 February 2012 00:00|
Valentine's is full of romance, and for some, it is a good time for armchair romance, with a big bag of popcorn. So hit the Haagen-Dazs, because here's the Press+1 recommended list of Romantic Films made in the last decade!
I've discovered that a few elements are required when speaking the language of love onscreen from 2002 to 2012: we are a society who either likes to live a blissful fantasy world of romance, or we like to have a ‘good cry' when two people fall in love and it can never be. I've also discovered that if you mix and match any of the following actors with these actresses, you are bound to make a successful romantic film; Sandra Bullock, Kate Winslet, Drew Barrymore, Hugh Grant, Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp, Ed Norton. Although we miss the sweeping romances from the previous decades that have brought us fond memories, from Gone With The Wind to Young at Heart to Casablanca, I think you will find a few classics within this collection as well....
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) - Based on an absurd premise but grounded in real emotion, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is about a man who wishes to erase his ex-girlfriend from his memory after he finds out she erased him first. Life isn't always that easy, as Joel (Jim Carrey) discovers: as he's erasing Clementine (Kate Winslet) from his memory, he's also erasing some of the best parts of his life. Joel starts to fight the memory erasing in a desperate effort to protect what he's discovered he loves most about life...Clementine. A beautifully structured film, which has the story going both backwards and forwards, that always reminds us how precious our memories truly are.
The Lake House (2006) - Some people are meant to make good film romance; Bacall and Bogart, Ryan and Hanks, and Bullock and Reeves. In this French film remake, Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) moves into a Lake House and is asked by the previous owner, Kate Forster (Bullock) to forward her mail; the only problem is that she dates her letters 2006 and he dates them 2004. They discover they are somehow two years apart, and as they correspond back and forth, creating an intimate relationship through words, they discover they have a connection that bridges the two year gap. In a plot twist right out of a 1940s classic, Alex of 2004 books a date in 2006 to meet up with Kate at a romantic restaurant, making him wait for two years but Kate just waits until tomorrow...only, Alex never shows when the day finally arrives and his 2004 self has no answer to give Kate. What would detain him? A lot can happen in two years. This is a really great film, and well worth multiple viewings.
North & South (2004) - Need a Mr. Darcy fix? Watched Mr. Darcy far too many times already (not that Colin Firth looking at Jennifer Ehle at the piano ever gets old)? Still need a decent 19th century man? Well I have a solution for you. Meet Northerner John Thornton of the Elizabeth Gaskell classic North & South. Margaret Hale, a feisty southern girl, has moved to Britain's industrial Northern city of Milton and her customs are not that of the areas. Mr. Thornton comes off as stern at first (not dissimilar to Mr. Darcy's initial pride) but we are soon to discover that he loves Margaret deeply. However, a chance sighting by Mr. Thornton of Margaret bidding farewell to a young man at the train station at night (unattended!) and a dark secret Margaret is unwilling to share could damage their chances of falling in love. Gaskell's classic works on many levels -- it is about class systems, the hardship of the industrial revolution, and missed communications. The novel differs slightly from the film, particularly in regards to the ending, but I would have to admit that the ending of this romance is much better on film than in print.
The Painted Veil (2006) - Another classic novel brought to film. Somerset Maugham's story of a man and woman who marry first and fall in love later is quite possibly one of the most romantic films on the DVD shelf. Set in the 1920s, Walter (Edward Norton) sees Kitty (Naomi Watts) at a party and is immediately struck by her. After an incredibly brief courtship they are married, but Walter is all practicality and Kitty is frivolous and spoiled. Walter moves Kitty from England to China where he does research. Quickly bored, Kitty dives into a love affair with a married man. When Walter discovers the infidelity he makes her choose between a public disgraceful divorce and moving to the cholera-stricken interior of China where he has requested a transfer as a virtual suicide mission. She refuses both options and in a cruel turn Walter tells her she can have a quiet divorce if her lover agrees to leave his wife. Kitty returns embittered to Walter after speaking with her paramour and moves to the China interior. It is a cruel setup, but as Kitty learns to grow up, she understands Walter's complexities and how she almost let the best man she would ever find slip between her fingers; now she must find a way to regain his trust. This is a beautiful film that will make you want to read the novel as soon as the end credits of the film roll.
The Notebook (2004) - Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling star in The Notebook, and play Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun, two people from different walks of life who meet at a carnival in the 1940s and spend the next bulk of years fighting for love or hiding from it. The story of this couple is relayed back from an elderly man to his wife via a notebook. Also derived from a novel, this Nicholas Sparks story sounds like a straight boy-meets-girl scenario, which it is, and it does not shy away from being a sentimental romance; however, there is something truly captivating about this film. Bring out the hankies for this one!
Finding Neverland (2004) - Instead of a film based on a book, Finding Neverland is a film about an author, J.M. Barrie of Peter Pan fame. In a much disputed take on the past, Finding Neverland explores the relationship between J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) and a widowed woman, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet), with a family of four young boys. Barrie is portrayed as a playmate to the children and a confidant to Sylvia. One of the four boys is Peter, who will eventually be the inspiration for Peter Pan, but when the film takes place, we see a disillusioned young boy who has lost his father and it is up to Barrie to help the boy remember how to live again inside the world of imagination. The story is an untraditional romance, but has the essence of heart on every level. It is beautifully directed (Marc Forster) and effortlessly merges reality with the imagination of Barrie's Neverland. Not only that, who was the complete genius to match Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet in a romantic film together.
He's Just Not That Into You (2009) - A simply lovely film that debunks the truths that women hold so dear to their hearts. This collection of relationships, all at different stages of flowering, flourishing or failing, ends up being a rather delightful romantic film with such mega-stars as Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Connelly and Drew Barrymore. He's Just Not That Into You does seem to center around Ginnifer Goodwin's character, Gigi, figuring out what falling in love is all about. In her desperate attempts to find "the one," she stumbles across a man willing to guide her through the unclear signals women seem to think men send out. I would have to agree with Alex (Justin Long) on this one -- if a guy is nuts about you, he will let you know and in no ambiguous terms. The film has some truly romantic and touching moments and I declared after seeing it that He’s Just Not That Into You has made me realize that all films should have two running motifs – they should all have Ben Affleck on bended knee at some point and should all end with a Keane song to back up a romantic moment." Take a look at the hilarious promo video for this film at the end of the article. It has three of the male actors showing the ten "chick flick" moments not in this movie.
Water for Elephants (2011) – Yes, this Robert Pattinson love fest outdoes his other romantic film this year (known as the Twilight Saga). Love in a circus during the depression is always extra romantic; something about the transience, outsiders, and magic of the circus coming to town. Plus, Christoph Waltz is beyond outstanding as the tyrant of the circus being lovable and hate-able at times. Witherspoon looks stunning and elegant while Pattinson looks normal for once. Not to mention the chemistry between Reese Witherspoon and Pattinson and a Polish Elephant named Rosie makes Water for Elephants more soppy then Dumbo but has the endearing quality of an epic love story of an unknown couple.
It's Complicated (2009) - As a follow-up to her 2003 Something's Gotta Give, Director and Screenwriter Nancy Meyers, challenges audiences to take a look at love from more than a youthful star-crossed experience. Meyers redefines what love is when Jane (Meryl Streep) has a one-night stand with her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) at her son's University graduation festivities. Janehas taken a decade to "pull herself together" after the divorce and is happy single. She doesn't want her ex-husband back as he stopped evolving during his second marriage to the much younger Agness (Lake Bell). Meanwhile, sweet and patient Adam (Steve Martin) adores Jane from afar but is struggling to find a way to her heart. It's Complicated explores a three-way relationship of grown-ups that is both utterly hilarious and all too true at times. Best line of the film comes from Jane when she is telling her friends about her affair with Jake: "I'm having an affair with Agness Adler's husband!" - All women scorned should have such a sweet revenege on the harlots who took them in the first place!
Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) – Although 2011 was not a stellar year for romance on film, this one seemed to make up for all those lost leaders. Aside from discussing the fact that a ripped Ryan Gosling seducing women with Patrick Swayze moves from Dirty Dancing is now every woman’s ‘go to’ daydream, this film had so many more memorable moments to offer as well. Steve Carrell was endearing, as was his romantically gifted son. The ‘love scene’ between Gosling and Emma Stone was perhaps one of the most romantic ever committed to screen. You also have genuinely funny moments paired with genuinely heart-warming moments, a new love blossoming and one that wants to work its way back to that initial ‘spark’ that made a marriage worth having. A nice twist in the end and a truly delicious performance by Marisa Tomei makes Crazy, Stupid, Love get repeated viewings on Valentine’s Day. Well, that and Ryan Gosling shirtless…
Les Amours Imaginaires (2010) - If you only see one subtitled film in your future, make it this one. Twenty-one year old Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan makes a three-way love triangle a poetic and romantic ode to friendship. Francis (Xavier Dolan) and Marie (Monia Chokri) are close friends until they both fall in love with the same guy - Nicolas (Niels Schneider). This is an exquisite film that follows these three people down a path of unknown dimensions. For one thing, is Nicolas gay or straight? Will Francis and Marie's friendship last through this? Who will win the love of Nicolas? Aside from the slow tease of the storyline also comes some funny, sweet, sensual and heartbreaking moments, wrapped in the most sultry and sensory driven filmmaking I have seen in years. Heartbeats is this films poorly chosen English name, but Les Amours Imaginaires seems to make an ideal romantic film for any Valentine's Day. It is out on DVD now.
A look to 2012….
This is considered an inside scoop, but perhaps one of the most sensuous and electrifying films to hit screens this year for romantic hearts alike will be Take This Waltz. Directed by Sarah Polley and starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogan and Luke Kirby develop a complex relationship that seduces Williams character Margo out of her marriage. Aside from about half a dozen memorable moments that are either romantic or simply melancholic, one scene stands out as a ‘thinking woman’s sex scene’ whereby Daniel (Kirby) describes what he would do to Margo if she would allow him to touch her, set in a coffee shop, this scene alone is more delicious then Hagen Dazs. You heard me. Search Take This Waltz out at the end of June, start of July, in your local theatre!
So did I miss your favourite romantic film in the last decade? Tell me what film you loved more than Haagen-Dazs....
By: Kindah Mardam Bey