Hello again everybody! It’s me, @areel.reviews and I’m back for another round of movie recommendations. It’s that time of the year again to celebrate with your loved one or close friends – Valentine’s Day! First, I would like to thank the Gudeiary team for inviting me once again to provide a list of romantic movies for you lovebirds or singles looking for love and make “Netflix & Chill” hip again 🙂
As much as love is in the air, so is Covid-19 unfortunately 😦 Since restaurants are not allowed for dine-in customers (again), we are at a stumbling block in finding new ways to celebrate the special day with our other halves. A simple candlelit dinner at home has become our sole option but it does not have to be stale and repetitive every year peeps!
Spice it up with some simple decoration, home-cooked meals, and enjoy a romantic movie to end the night? Alas, we find ourselves again in an unfortunate dilemma – choosing the right film. Do you find yourself scrolling aimlessly on your preferred streaming sites again? Aren’t you tired of the same ol’ cheesy romantic comedies you often hear from your friends and colleagues (Me Before You, The Notebook, Titanic, Dear John, A Walk to Remember… I can go on and on :D)? Fret no more! Let @areel.reviews come to the rescue in recommending not 5… not 10… but 15 Valentine’s Day films that will melt your hearts away. They will be categorised into 5 subgenres: Romantic Comedies, Romantic Drama, Romantic Animation, Tragic Romance, and The One That Got Away…
The most favoured category of them all, we cannot deny the power of cheesy rom-com to push away the cynical side inside ourselves and just indulge on the optimistic side of love and romance. From swooning gestures to laugh-out-loud situations, aren’t these the best feelings to share with your loved ones? As Hollywood oversaturates this genre with a plethora of mediocre rom-coms, there are a few that stand out amongst the rest. As a 90’s kid, it’s only fair to bring up the good ol’ rom-coms from the past, with these three amazing films that always melt my heart away.
1. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
“I’ll have what she’s having…“
I do not need to say anything more. Filled with many witty dialogues and an irresistible chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, this film still stands as one of the best rom-coms to date, with jokes that are still relevant to us millennials today. A film about two good friends who fear that sex will ruin their friendship, their constant banters are relatable and universal, and their simple declaration of love towards each other are anything but realistically grand.
2. Notting Hill (1999)
“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her…“
If that line and scene does not melt your cold, beating heart, then I have no words to save you from the dark abyss XD. Starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, these two were at their prime in this classic rom-com that tells a story about a simple book keeper who happens to fall in love with a Hollywood movie star. With a script that’s filled with British humour by Richard Curtis (About Time and Love Actually), this surprisingly grounded film will have you rooting for these two till the credits roll.
3. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
“Yeah, but I screwed up. I fell for her…“
An underrated high school romantic flick, 10 Things stands out from even most recent films thanks to a clever, funny twist to the Shakespearean play and the amazing performances from Julia Stiles (Save the Last Dance peeps!) and the late Heath Ledger as Pat and Kat. Plus, we get to see Joseph Gordon Levitt in his young days too as the adorable friend, Cameron! This is also a film to watch with a bunch of your friends if you’re having a party instead of a romantic celebration 🙂
If rom-coms are getting a bit tiresome and you are worried about finding other romantic films, romantic drama is another genre with an endless list of films depicting love in a heavier, deep rooted manner. From instant connections to long-lasting marriages, here are the three underrated films that are suitable for you if you’re looking for a film with more dramatic heft.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
“How blameless is the vestal’s lot. The world forget by the world forgot…“
An amalgamation of science fiction, non-linear drama and tons of romantic memories, this classic is one of my favourite films of all time. Bold and original, it tells the story of Joel, a somber loner who finds out that his ex, Clementine has completely erased him from her memories and decides to follow down the same road. But the tough question persists, do you want to erase your ex from your life forever? With amazing performances from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, this unpredictable romance is for those who long for cherished memories, despite them being bitter till the very end.
2. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
“You have bewitched me body and soul… And I love you…“
A Jane Austen adaptation? Check. A swooping romantic British period film? Check. Keira Knightley anxiously waiting for her dreamy Mr. Darcy in the dawn of mist backed up with a sweeping soundtrack? MEGA CHECK. Severely overlooked by hopeless romantics, I urge you to give this film a go as Joe Wright adapts a classic novel and puts a 21st century modernity to it, injecting freshness into a familiar story. By the end of the film, you will be bewitched body and soul, just as how Elizabeth Bennett feels for Mr. Darcy.
3. Her (2014)
“I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It’s a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity…“
Elevating romantic films to a whole new level, Her is simply a story about a man named Theodore who falls in love with his… phone? Often made fun of in parodies, this surprisingly insightful and romantic film runs deeper than its surface thanks to an original, layered script by Spike Jonze, and amazing performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johannson. Besides, don’t you always pick up your mobile phones the first thing in the morning anyway? That’s true love right there XD.
Think animations are “just cartoons” with no romance or tearjerking scenes? Get outta here! Animated films, may it be 2D hand drawn or 3D computer generated, boast a surplus amount of romantic elements that surpass most live action romantic films. For those lovebirds who are craving for some form of escape from reality and delve into the creative sides of animators, here are my top three recommended animated films for Valentine’s Day.
1. Up (2009)
“Adventure is out there!”
Words cannot describe on how heartbreaking this film is, only to find out the opening montage itself is beautifully done so without any dialogue at all! And it still moved me to tears! Honestly, if the masterfully done montage does not move you or make you shed a tear, I don’t think your other half can save you from your cold, black heart XD. As much as this is a film about losing your other half, it is also about loving your loved ones despite them being in the afterlife. Better cherish them while you still can!
2. Your Name (2016)
“So we don’t forget when we wake up. Let’s write our names on each other…“
A modern romantic classic anime, Your Name is one film that perfectly captures the alluring sensation of waking up from an amazing dream, only to want to continue back to sleep just so that it can last longer. A moving tale about two high school kids living in different parts of Japan who inexpicably begin to swap bodies, the complex narrative builds to an emotionally satisfying finale that will make you rediscover your first encounter with your loved ones. Heck, it’s also a film that’s suitable for a house party with friends, where you can secretly scooch with your crush and let the romance bloom itself 🙂
3. Wall-E (2008)
“And that is all, that love’s about…“
Another Pixar classic, don’t be fooled that a film about two programmed metal robots could have a big heart after all! A silent film in the first half, there is no other film that quite captures the poetic message and the fundamental tenet of human lives: to share life’s experiences with a partner, whoever or whatever they may be. Often depicted in films about loneliness (Wilson! Wilson!), Wall-E reignites the longing for love and companionship within ourselves, and the ending will leave you with tears of joy. Plus, it is not only a love story between two man-made machines, it is also a love story to our home, Planet Earth.
If you are looking for a different kind of Valentine’s Day film where love is not always sunshine and rainbows, tearjerker films about love lost, divorce and death are aplenty to make you cherish your loved ones while they are still in your arms. Yes, Up is one of them and Titanic is the epitome of tragic romance (though honestly, Rose could really share that wooden plank with Jack and live happily ever after), here are three other films that require a tissue box right next to you to wipe those tears away.
1. Atonement (2007)
“I gave them their happiness…“
Another Joe Wright film adaptation of a complex Ian McEwan novel, Atonement is a cautionary tale likened to the boy who cries wolf. Starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan (she was nominated for her role here, and for a good reason), it is about a young couple who was torn apart because of one devastating lie. Filled with beautiful imageries depicting young love on a hot summer day and the dark path towards atonement, you will be floored at the end of the film. Plus, you might need to make sure that your younger sibling does not ruin your perfect relationship!
2. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
“Maybe okay would be our always…“
A coming-of-age romance drama, this YA film is wise beyond its years thanks to an empathetic direction and strong performances from its two leads, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Engort. Watching the two support each other as they battle their own cancer is difficult to swallow but life affirming subsequently as their love for each other is eternal. The scenes are never manipulative and rightfully earn our buckets of tears, and you’ll be longing to travel again with your loved one, whenever and wherever it may be…
3. A Star is Born (2018)
“I think you might be a songwriter. And don’t worry, I won’t tell anybody. But I’m not very good at keeping secrets…“
A modern romantic classic, Bradley Cooper directs and stars alongside Lady Gaga in this tragic love story between a famous Country musician struggling with alcoholism and an aspiring singer. The highs and lows of Jack and Ally’s relationship are raw, honest and relatable, and the film hits all of the right emotional notes, figuratively and literally. I mean, you will be singing Shallow to your loved one out loud the moment Gaga hits that stage XD.
The One That Got Away
May it be brief encounters, what could have been, or simply a breakup you never wanted, this romantic genre aims for a different kind of pathos to those who have experienced this, which is pretty much almost anyone! Definitely best to watch if you are going through a rough patch or are having a slumber party with your closed friends, here are my three film recommendations that will provide a positive cathartic experience in the end.
1. 500 Days of Summer (2009)
“This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story…“
An offbeat romantic comedy that’s clever and funny, this is a story of boy meets girl, and the boy strongly falls in love with her. But as the narrator cautiously warns us, this is not a love story. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel shine in this film about two characters with very contrasting outlooks on love and relationship. Tom is a hopeless romantic and Summer is just the opposite of it. We have to admit, most of us have been in this situation before and its not a fun experience, especially if you belong with Tom’s views on true love and soulmates, but the bitter truth must be faced – just because both of you like the same thing doesn’t mean both of you are meant to be…
2. In the Mood for Love (2000)
“It’s me. If there’s an extra ticket… would you go with me?“
Trust Wong Kar Wai to put us through a visual experience that’s also emotionally engaging, especially with this what-could-have-been romance between two neighbours who are both married to their own spouses. An elegiac tale of a doomed romance, this all-time classic feels timeless, as Kar-Wai puts a spell on us with amazing melodramatic atmosphere, you’ll be longing for a happy conclusion for both of them despite knowing that it will never happen 😦
3. Lost in Translation (2003)
“You’ll figure that out. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you…“
Another all-time classic of mine, Lost in Translation is one of the reasons why I fell in love with cinema. The ability to capture humour and subtle pathos through visuals and tones is one of the greatest achievements this film has to offer. Tenderly directed by Sofia Coppola, it tells the story about a strong friendship developed between two Americans, one a middle-aged movie star going through a midlife crisis and the other a neglected young woman facing an existential crisis, set in modern Tokyo. Although their relationship is plutonic and brief, their connection is strong and timeless, as they both navigate through confusing stages in their lives…
And there you have it folks! Hopefully, you will find your ideal Valentine’s Day film based on my recommendations. If you are keen for more in each category, you can always check them out at my Instagram account @areel.reviews.
For now, stay safe and enjoy your Valentine’s Day peeps!
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