Three romantic film suggestions
The romantic genre has been popular throughout cinema history – some of our most treasured films fall under this bracket, as it’s an enduring theme which will never become irrelevant.
The greatest romance films of all time come from not one specific decade or era, but many. In this selection of three (which is actually five, as you’ll see) we’ll cover different decades – the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s and all the way up until present day.
3. Heaven Can Wait
(dir. Warren Beatty and Buck Henry, 1978)
This first entry may not be one of the most well-known films, or even one which would spring immediately to mind when trying to pick great romantic films, but nonetheless it is one. Warren Beatty stars (as well as co-directing) as Joe Pendleton, a quarterback for a fictional American football team – the Los Angeles Rams.
As the protagonist cycles down LA’s famous Mulholland Drive, he collides with a truck – at which point his nervous guardian angel intervenes and transports Joe to the afterlife. In actual fact, Joe would not have died had the guardian angel stepped in, and would have died in 2025 instead of 1978, but due to the fact that Joe’s body had already been cremated, the deed was already done.
An investigation ensues, and it is decided by the mysterious Mr. Jordan that Joe’s soul is to be placed in a new body – or rather, the body of someone who is about to die. The chosen host is a Mr Leo Farnsworth – a wealthy industrialist who’s just been fatally drugged by his wife, Julia, and secretary, Tony.
Joe, in Farnsworth’s body, assumes his identity (we see him as Joe whilst everyone else sees him as Farnsworth), and goes about his business. An environmental activist named Betty Logan pays him a visit to voice her strong disapproval of his policies; Joe of course falls madly in love with her – which is understandable given that she’s played by Julie Christie.
As to not ruin the film for you, we won’t divulge any more specific details. We’ll just say that Farnsworth’s wife and secretary continue to try to see him off, and the romantic element of the plot also thickens between Joe (in Farnsworth’s body) and Betty. It’s got one of the all-time great romantic endings as far as we’re concerned – an overlooked classic!
2. Before Sunrise; Before Sunset; Before Midnight
(dir. Richard Linklater, 1995; 2004; 2013)
So this entry is in fact a trilogy as opposed to just one film, but it is one of the most underrated trilogies of all time – not just in regards to the romantic bracket either.
The first film, which was both made and set in 1995, sees Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet by chance whilst on a train headed for Vienna. The former is American, the latter French, and both are in their mid-twenties.
Celine moves from her seat when the middle-aged German couple opposite her begin to argue intensely, and ends up sitting right by Jesse – who feels compelled to strike up a conversation with her. We soon find out that Jesse is getting a flight home to the States in the morning, whilst Celine is returning to Paris (where the train is headed after its stop in Vienna). Upon arrival in Vienna, Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train on a whim and spend the day and evening with him.
You can probably imagine how the plot develops from there, but that’s not to say that it’s predictable or corny in the slightest. This film is unlike any romantic comedy or drama you’ve ever seen before, and the sequels are just as good too.
What’s great about this trilogy is how well-organised it was. The first sequel, Before Sunset, was made and set nine years after the first film, and the second sequel, Before Midnight, sees us jump another nine years ahead of that. So, in effect, this trilogy documents almost 20 years of a relationship – a fictional relationship indeed, but you do have to remind yourself of that, due to Hawke and Delpy’s chemistry.
Again, just as with Heaven Can Wait, the Before… films aren’t mentioned half as much as they should be – but now you know! The DVDs are easy to get hold of, and you can get all three for around £12 or so.
1. When Harry Met Sally
(dir. Rob Reiner, 1989)
Our number one entry is of course very well-known – much more than the other two – but this is for good reason. When Harry Met Sally is now 25 years old, but to watch it you wouldn’t think so – it’s still just as sharp and hilarious now as it was in 1989, and hasn’t dated at all. This, of course, is the mark of a truly great film.
The title characters are played, respectively, by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan – who enjoy wonderful chemistry. The movie starts in 1977, when both Harry and Sally have both finished school at the University of Chicago. Not knowing each other very well, they share a ride to New York – Harry’s plan is to jump straight into a career, whilst Sally’s is to further her education at journalism school.
As they drive across country from Chicago to New York, the two share their views on life – and specifically relationships – and discover that they are very different. Harry is insistent that men and women cannot be friends without sex, whilst Sally heavily disagrees and believes they can. Once they reach New York they part somewhat unpleasantly due to their opposite outlooks.
Over the course of the film, the two characters meet again and again, engaging in an on-and-off relationship. One of its biggest strengths is how superbly funny it is, but all the while remaining very realistic and stark at some points.
Again, this is a film which is easy to get hold of on DVD and Blu-ray, and is on TV quite often too – so if you haven’t seen it, you have no excuse not to amend that ASAP!
Did you enjoy this blog?
Here at Pearl London, we like to write about topics our customers will find interesting. Did you enjoy reading our pick of three romantic films? We’ve chosen ones which both sexes will enjoy equally – which we think is important. You’ll be able to get them all for under £3 each as well, so what are you waiting for?!