What are my top five favorite romance movies you ask? Here they are, starting with the classic –
Sense and Sensibility I’m betting that most of you are familiar with Jane Austen’s story of two sisters with different temperaments, re-imagined as a film by the wonderful Emma Thompson. I’m all Team Elinor (Emma) here. I guess I identify with the person holding it together while those all around melt down.
This is a classic Regency story. The Dashwood estate is entailed, and Elinor and Marianne (Kate Winslet) lose their home upon their father’s death. Their brother’s wife is a shrew and convinces him not to help them. They and their mother and little sister retreat to a cottage (which looks rather nice to me), where Marianne falls for Willoughby, a charming lightweight. Elinor is already in love with Edward Ferrars, but both sisters discover that marriage is problematic without money in the nineteenth century. Marianne has a breakdown; Elinor keeps quiet about her pain. Two approaches to the vicissitudes of life. In the end they both get a happy ending, though Elinor’s is a little happier.
Truly Madly Deeply This movie is an unconventional romance, but I find it touching. Nina (Juliet Stevenson) is mourning the recent death of her boyfriend, Jamie (Alan Rickman). When she’s falling into despair, Jamie comes back as a ghost and haunts her. She’s delighted! Until Jamie begins to be annoying — turning the heat up to tropical, rearranging the furniture, filling the place with irritating ghost friends. Even so, when Nina meets Mark, an attractive psychologist, she holds back because of Jamie’s continued presence in her life, infuriating as he’s become. Jamie leaves to allow her to move on, and it becomes clear that he came back to help Nina recover by tarnishing her idealized image of him. He cared that much.
Music and Lyrics Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) is a washed-up former boy band member. Grant is hilarious at this. He meets eccentric Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore) because she is temporarily watering his plants. When Alex gets a chance to revitalize his career by writing a song for a teen idol, he’s stumped. Until he finds that Sophie has a talent for lyrics to match his for music. They grow close while writing the (of course) hit song. Complications and misunderstandings ensue, but they are resolved in a sweet way. Alex and Sophie become successful partners, both in songwriting and life.
That Thing You Do It’s 1964 in Erie, Pennsylvania and some local guys have formed a band. They’ve also written a really catchy tune. They’re noticed by a talent promoter and get the chance to go on tour with a team of well-known acts. Their song moves up the charts. Drummer Guy (Tom Everett Scott) and lead singer’s girlfriend Faye (Liv Tyler) both have to see through self-centered, mean-spirited partners before they find their way to each other. Tom Hanks wrote and directed this movie, and it has his warm charm.
Guy Patterson: Before you go, let me ask you one question.
Faye Dolan: Shoot.
Guy: When was the last time you were decently kissed? I mean, truly, truly, good and kissed?
Faye: Dave Gammelgard, New Year’s Eve, ’61.
Guy: Okay. [kisses Faye, backs off, they kiss longer]
Faye: We should have done that a long time ago.
Mamma Mia! Okay, it’s mostly the songs. If you don’t like ABBA, just stop now. Also, I’ve had a crush on Pierce Brosnan since Remington Steele. (I know. He can’t sing. I don’t care!). Bonus points for Stellan Skarsgård and Colin Firth.
On the Greek island of Kalokairi (which Google Translate says has no meaning in Greek) a girl sends out three wedding invitations to men who might be her father. Because her mom Donna (Meryl Streep) was a freewheeling hippie in her youth. The guys arrive, shocking Donna. Everybody sings. There’s a wonderful scene where all the women on the island join in for “Dancing Queen.” The past is unraveled, and it’s HEA a few years after the fact. There’s a rollicking encore with over-the-top costumes (sequins! platform shoes!). I admit to loving it all.
So, there you have it, my top five romantic movies. I’m noticing there’s a lot of music involved, which is interesting. Seems I ought to like opera more.
If you crave love stories and haven’t tried any of these, I recommend them.
Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S. Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.