We’re back with some more film recommendations… continuing with this month’s theme of romance. Expect the expected and the unexpected here. These picks aren’t all outright romance/romantic comedies, though a few are. Just try not to throw-up on your screens, okay?
I fell in love with Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies, a short lived but brilliant series I wouldn’t have hesitated to recommend if we were writing about TV shows for romance recommendations. I was determined to watch more films with him in and Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day is right up my street.
It’s London in 1939 and Guinevere Pettigrew has just been cast from her job as a nanny and is forced to join the queue for the soup line. In the morning, she pretends that she is a social secretary hired by American actress Delysia LaFosse (played by Amy Adams) who has a series of boyfriends competing for her affection.
In the course of a day Miss Pettigrew’s life is turned around completely as she attends fashion shows, dances and parties. Throughout it all she tries to sort out Delysia’s love life and does not have a regard to her own until the end.
This is a romance film that perfectly captures pre-war London and all the associated glamour – it’s about love conquering all, for both young and old. And of course, Lee Pace, whom I love, plays one of the best parts.
Romance is never easy to do on film. Because of the limited screen time, films usually fall into two types of pitfalls: the characters fall in love far too soon; the relationships don’t feel fully fleshed out. That’s the problem with film. In television, there is the benefit of more screen time and more opportunity for slower, character driven moments. In books, there is more chance to get inside a character’s head, to see what makes them tick, to see why they fall for certain people. In games, the player goes through relationships and romance as if they are experiencing it themselves, making them all the more believable. In films, all you have is two hours and whatever dialogue you can fit between the action scenes. Because of this, films definitely have the short straw when it comes to presenting believable and tender romances, but occasionally, they manage to pull it off.
The greatest example of this that I have seen is Pixar’s Up, which, in roughly ten minutes, manages to show an entire relationship, from its sweet beginning to its heartbreaking end, with more clarity and emotion than a hundred films before it, and reduce the entire audience to sobbing wrecks. The relationship between Carl and Ellie is beautiful in both its simplicity and its undeniably poignant resonance and familiarity. And one of the things that makes it such a great romance is the effect and impact Ellie continues to have on Carl even after she has gone. The love they had for each other is almost palpable, and the scene with the photo album, which makes me melt every time I watch it, proves how powerful their relationship was. Up is by far the most believable and heart-wrenchingly honest romantic film I have ever seen.
Seemingly before the glut of indie but not indie films, I feel like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was one that really kicked things off. Recently watching it again, I was actually surprised I recognised that Mark Ruffalo was one of the actors as well – I already knew about Kirsten Dunst and David Cross. So basically, The Hulk fooled around with Mary-Jane. Just think about that for a second…
The film starts of with a pair of people inexplicably drawn to each other after an apparent chance meeting. But what came before? Well, for those of you that haven’t seen the film, I won’t spoil it for you. But suffice to say, it’s a bit of a head trip-film.
The one thing that struck me about rewatching the film – Clementine really reminds me of Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim, though not quite as apathetic. But that’s where the similarities stop.
For me, one of the most striking things about this film is that it’s actually technically believable. Not only that, but it’s the kind of bitter-sweet mix that is reminiscent of actual relationships – and it’s terrifying. On some psychological level, it is very disturbing – and it’s kind of why I like it. Very few films have quite the same impact with its main characters – and nobody gets fridged. It’s a very real film, one that is hauntingly beautiful.
Unlike previous weeks, I didn’t have to think about this choice at all. No sooner had the month’s topic been decided than I responded with WALL-E. Because nothing spells “romance” like a knackered old trash-compactor and his quest to hold hands with an iPod.
Andrew Stanton’s beautiful 2008 film is probably my favourite Pixar film. At once a fun space-adventure, a master-class in immersive atmosphere, a strong social allegory, and a sweet little love story. It’s all great stuff but it’s the love story, between clunky yellow robot WALL-E and high-tech probe droid EVE, that holds everything together and makes it sing.
I honestly think it’s the holding hands that makes the difference. These robots’ ultimate emotional act isn’t to kiss (or, um, zap each other with sparks) because this isn’t about sex or physical attraction – they just want companionship and love. It’s a weird distinction to make, but it really really works, and two machines holding hands turns out to be far more affecting than two humans making out ever could.
The general consensus is that the film’s second, space-borne half isn’t as good as its first, but I’ve never noticed. The relationship of these two characters continues to deepen throughout, and all their most moving moments happen later on. The big one, for me, is when they dance together through space, despite no-one having a clue what “dancing” even is. It’s magical, and it’s why I will always choose WALL-E.
My favourite romance movie, I’m guessing that most thought I would struggle with this one. Alas I have a guilty secret, I’m a little soppy romantic at heart so the choice was boundless. There’s quite a few romantic films, which I’ve loved over the years and I’m a big Richard Curtis fan.
Therefore my pick is an absolute gem, filled with soppy moments that bring a tear to your eye, and some laugh out loud comedy moments. Moments, which once seen you’ll never forget.
Its a story that follows the life’s of eight very different couples, all set in a very frantic month before Christmas. I am of course talking about the marvellous Love Actually. A true classic, that everyone should watch at least once.
Chasing Amy is Kevin Smith’s 1997 follow-up to Clerks and Mallrats, which were of a completely opposite emotional level in comparison to CA. It’s a romantic comedy that’s pretty different from most other romantic comedies of the time and even now. It’s not about grossing you out, but it is about taking people who feel they are “the norm” out of their comfort zones when it comes to relationships, sexuality and sexual experience.
I watched Chasing Amy not long after seeing Clerks and Mallrats for the first time, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. It’s not the same kind of humour as the previous two films, but I feel that it as a comedy manages to reasonably respect the themes it explored. It’s probably my favourite romantic film because it deals with such messy subject matter.
For those who don’t know much of the “scenes” (from indie comics creation to the LGBT communities) explored, the film may come off as a tad too unrealistic. The comics stuff is idealised (where’d they get all that money from a creator owned title?) and the sexuality side is stereotypical in places, but I can’t imagine a better combination of these worlds in a film context.