8. Monsieur Hire (Patrice Leconte, 1989)
This film is similar to Kieslowski’s “A Short Film About Love” in plot, but its ending and characters are different. Its protagonist doesn’t need a telescope to watch his crush’s room; their rooms are near each other, face to face. A man falls in love with a woman who has a boyfriend.
This man, the protagonist, always watches her at night keeping the light off in his room. He watches everything that the woman does. One day, while he was watching with the light off, the woman also comes near the window and at that very moment, a light comes on and, of course, the woman sees him. Now what? Actually, that woman tries to seduce him. She likes being spied by him.
Leconte has made some great films. Generally, his characters are lonely, introverted, antisocial and victims. “Monsieur Hire” is his masterpiece not to be missed.
9. Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
This famous film is similar to the second half of “Chungking Express”, but the entire film has many other elements other than its protagonist Amelie’s one-sided love toward her crush. Amelie does so many things that make her crush happy, but his crush don’t know who actually is following and doing favors for him. He becomes so curious but couldn’t know the truth.
Amelie can’t express her love directly, for most of her life she had been lonely and antisocial. Apart from her love, this extremely romantic and feel-good film is famous for Amelie’s character, who likes to make everybody happy.
Jeunet has made some visually stunning great films that are mainly feel-good films. Even though this film’s themes are similar to “Chungking Express”, it has a unique French savor. Audrey Tautou has given the best performance of her career here.
10. The Road Home (Zhang Yimou, 1999)
This is an ultimate example of a platonic love for a woman, especially in Asia. A girl falls in love with a teacher (of seemingly equal age) who has just come to her village. The teacher also feels that she loves him and ultimately, he also falls in love with her. But in that remote Chinese village, they can’t get even a chance to talk. She brings lunch to him, made by her own hand. But when that special lunch mixes with others’ lunch, it’s unsure whether her very crush gets it or not.
She continues to make his lunch either way. That’s one of the best ways to express her love, after all. But sadly, that teacher has to go to the city, so she starts to wait for him. Wait, wait and wait. She doesn’t care about her health or the weather or any backbiting. This love story is even more touching than Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.
It’s surprising that this is the debut of female lead Zhang Ziyi (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “2046”), a famous Chinese actress. She has given one of the greatest performances of her career here. Zhang Yimou has made some great films and this is one of his unmissable films.
11. Love Exposure (Sion Sono, 2008)
This is Sion Sono’s best film, part of his Hate Trilogy. This intensely romantic film shows not only love but also hate, but love is also a main theme here. An adolescent boy falls in love with a girl (his classmate), but his father marries with her mother! Oh! Now what? Even worse, she hates him, hates him from the heart. She falls in love with another boy (actually the same boy, but in a mask) who had protected her from some bad boys.
During the fight, he had put mask over his face but now he can’t tell the truth to her. Some other girl claims that real protector is her. Now she falls in love with this girl who is actually a dangerous psychopath. From this comes the real hell of hate.
Sion Sono, like many other Japanese directors, has used melodrama here but in a very serious and sexy style. In some way, this film is similar to Tetsuya Nakashima’s films that he used to make before “Confessions.” “Love Exposure” is undoubtedly one of the greatest romantic films ever made.
12. Malena (Giuseppe Tornatore, 2000)
A 12-year-old boy falls in love with a woman named Malena, an extremely gorgeous woman who is probably the most beautiful woman in the city. Almost all men want to possess her and sleep with her, but she remains faithful to her husband. Her beauty becomes the biggest threat to the wives of the men of that city.
Anyway, even that little boy starts to fantasize about having sex with her and talking with her. Malena has to face almost hell-like situations in her city and this boy observes all these things. What can this little boy do, after all? A funny and strange thing about this boy is that his love is platonic to some level. He loves her his whole life, at least in the film.
Tornatore has made another classic like “Cinema Paradiso”. “Malena” is a famous film based on the unusual love obsession of a boy but it also has other elements. The mental, physical and social problems that this beautiful woman has to face are the main issue of this film.
13. Baran (Majid Majidi, 2001)
One major benefit of watching Iranian films is that they are the best source to know about the social and cultural life of the Muslim community, at least in Iran. Majid Majidi is generally famous for his films regarding the problems of poor children. But he has made one great film for adults as well, and that is “Baran.” This film perfectly shows the status of love in Muslim communities. Of course, “The Color of Paradise” is his masterpiece.
Writing anything about this film may spoil the story. So keeping it unwritten, the most interesting thing about this film is the platonic love of its main character, a boy who falls in love with a girl. The boy is Iranian and the girl is an Afghan refugee who has legal problems in Iran.
Another great thing about this film is that Majidi has depicted the very realistic picture of Iran, workers, and Afghan refugees in Iran, as he has always done beautifully and powerfully in most of his films.
14. Turn Left, Turn Right (Johnie To, Wai Ka-fai, 2003)
This romantic comedy is based on the theme of destiny of love: not only of its two main characters but also of other side characters. A boy and a girl fall in love with each other during their teenage years, but they can’t even talk with each other. Then they are separated after school is completed, but they still love each other. They believe in destiny, which means as if God has already made a couple and they meet eventually at some point in time. So they wait for each other.
What is interesting, romantic and funny is that they live in two separate but attached homes. They always meet or see each other but can’t recognize each other because they only know their teenage face. One day, they meet and even recognize each other talking about their past, but they have to separate. There are so many intriguing twists and funny moments that make audiences laugh as well as feel romantic experience during whole time watching it.
It is one of the best romantic comedy films ever made, and possibly the best example of the destiny-themed movie in that genre.
15. The Consequences of Love (Paolo Sorrentino, 2004)
Our protagonist is overtly non-talkative and an extreme loner businessman living in a hotel to perform a certain job with the mafia. He is married with children but they and his wife despise him. He hardly speaks or makes contact with other people. He falls in love with a beautiful waitress at a hotel where he usually goes to drink. But due to his excessive shyness, antisocial character and introverted nature, he doesn’t dare to talk to her.
Even when she wants to talk with him, he neglects her once. But one day, he dares to talk and meet with her. Then what? How does their love run? That is the interesting and, well, predictable part.
Sorrentino is one of the best directors of our generation, and his characters are generally this type of protagonist. He generally uses Toni Servillo as his protagonist and he has performed brilliantly here.
Honorable Mentions: Comrades: Almost a Love Story, The Lunchbox, The Isle, Bad Guy, 3-Iron, Cyrano de Bergerac.