Well, Valentine’s Day isn’t around the corner, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate the neural chemical reaction we have all come to interpret as “love”. We watch violent films as an escapism. We sit through horror films to experience that we never wish to witness in real life. We put on comedies to get a good laugh.
Sometimes, it feels good to put on a good romantic film just to feel the love that exudes from the passionate screenwriting, the heartfelt directing, and the charming performances. Some filmmakers have fixated on making these kinds of films.
John Hughes and Howard Deutch worked together to bring high school romance magic in Some Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in Pink. Nick Norby novels have been turned into works like the moving Brooklyn and the upcoming Juliet, Naked. We’re going to avoid discussing Nicolas Sparks here.
Then there are films that work just a little bit better when you are already in love. Nothing wrong with putting on Brooklyn with your spouse, as it is a great film. However, these following films are ones that maybe focus on the little things you experience while being in a relationship more than the moments of falling in love. Brooklyn is lovely when it comes to experiencing the initial phases of a relationship (or two).
What about the works that play with the emotions one already has? Whether these are stuffed with joy, or are even somewhat testing, these ten films work their way into the hearts that are already occupied. Here are ten films to watch when you are in love.
This might be the heaviest film on the list, but it is still essential. Camille is the many forms of sacrifice that get made during a relationship of any sort. How does one give away everything they have to pursue the one they love? How do they then refuse to be with said person to not affect their future? Love isn’t always about that you have, but it can sometimes be about that you are willing to not have.
This kind of tale—a battle-of-the-classes and the refusal of worth from an unworthy suitor—has been done many times (including Titanic, of course), but no film does it quite as well as Camille. Camille is heart wrenching, but it’s the kind of film that can make you and your loved ones feel fortunate that you may never have to give up so much for the ones you love.
9. The Shop Around the Corner
Modern audiences might be more familiar with the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan rom-com You’ve Got Mail, where two electronic pen pals fall in love online but despise each other in person.
Well, the source material (The Shop Around the Corner by Ernst Lubitsch) is definitely worth visiting whether you have seen the former film or not. Two employees (played by James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan) hate one another, but little do they know that they have been writing love letters to one another.
The Shop Around the Corner carries some time-based context with it when it comes to the turmoil of World War II that was ongoing at the time, so the tensions within the film mirrored what was going on at the time (including sexism in the workplace).
Either way, this joyful take on love and hate still holds up so well to this day, because it is all done with charm and grace. You can see You’ve Got Mail or any James Stewart flick all you want, but you will not have experienced The Shop Around the Corner for what it is until you actually see it.
8. Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation is brilliant for many reasons, but the main focus here is the relationship between the washed up actor (Bob Harris) and a new graduate (Charlotte). This film might be about the initial stages of falling in love, but this is through the perspectives of people who have already fallen in love. N
othing here feels scandalous, because Bob or Charlotte never set up a vendetta to get back at their own spouses. Instead, this feels like the connection between two lost souls: a young adult that is starting to face the real world, and a middle aged man that is tired of facing it.
Both people face a new world together (here, it’s the cultural wave on the streets of Japan). With the many things Sofia Coppola pulled off with Lost in Translation, one of her best achievements is the atypical way of representing a new beginning of love.
Of course a Billy Wilder film of some sort was going to pop up here. What may be his most romantic film at its core is the story of the titular Sabrina Fairchild: the daughter of the chauffeur of a wealthy family (the Larrabees). The film starts with Sabrina trying to kill herself after she gets tired of life’s tribulations (including the lack of being noticed by one of the Larrabee sons), only to be saved by the other son.
After leaving for Paris to find herself and returning, the game becomes a work of hijinks between two brothers (the one that never cared for her until now, and the one that always did care). All of the dark moments were at the start of the film, as the rest of the picture remains silly, loving, and optimistic. Sabrina features different kinds of love, and the rooting of true love to persevere.
If any early film captured the topsy-turvy ways of love and marriage, it’s the masterpiece L’Atalante by Jean Vigo (who unfortunately died shortly after the release of his opus at the young age of 29).
With parts taking place on the claustrophobically small interiors of the titular boat, L’Atalante explores the difficulties of being newlywed. With the husband (Jean) and the wife (Juliette) constantly being heated from the decisions the other person makes, all looks doomed from the start. The film progresses and flourishes through the regrets that each partner experiences during this time of crisis.
While parts of the film thrive in the melodramatic problems that go on, the work as a whole is short and sweet, clocking in at just under an hour and a half. You witness the ups-and-downs of a marriage in such a short amount of time, and with some of the best symbolism of the subject matter ever committed to film. You, too, will feel like you are cramped on a boat together, but it’s about figuring it out.