After missing a week due to my dissertation deadline last Thursday, we are back with this week’s Top 5 list. And we are delving into the world of romance movies, one of the oldest and most reproduced genres of film. And joining me this week to run through our top 5 favourites is my friend Ronni Blackford. So here we go with our Top 5 favourite Romance films.
- Shuggie: Easy A – having had supporting roles in Superbad and Zombieland Emma Stone finally gets her due as the star of Easy A. And she does a great job carrying this film. This film sees a girl allow her classmates to say they slept together, without having done so, and thereby gains a reputation. I think it has a good message to say about the whole culture of ‘slut-shaming’, although never quite hits this hard enough until the end where she does announce that it is nobody else’s business whether she sleeps with her new boyfriend or not. It’s an enjoyable film, with a solid message, but doesn’t quite excel enough on either side to be higher in my list.
- Ronni: Clueless – Clueless might just be the best Jane Austen adaption to hit our screens – and that includes Colin Firth emerging from the lake. Emma plus 90s fashion, bad driving and those brick mobile phones is truly a recipe for success (except when Iggy Azalea tries it… just no). The film pulls no punches: in the same way that Austen makes no attempt to write a perfect heroine, we are allowed to see all of Cher’s flaws and mistakes and yet, I don’t know about you but I love her (and Emma) regardless. My sole complaint is that a machine for picking out outfits is yet to exist – and that’s not entirely the film’s fault, to be fair.
- Shuggie: When Harry Met Sally – There’s a reason that When Harry Met Sally is one of the first films that comes to mind when you think of Romance films. Starting with their first meeting, just before a cross-country drive to New York, it tells the story of Billy Crystal’s Harry Burns and Meg Ryan’s Sally Albright. Both leads are fantastic and have wonderful chemistry, and really carry a film that almost wholly takes place around their interactions over a 12 year period. With a great soundtrack, all performed by Harry Connick Jr, it works perfectly with the story the film is trying to tell. All this and one of the greatest and most memorable comic scenes and lines ever; the fake orgasm scene, which has the perfect punch line, “I’ll have what she’s having.” delivered by director, Rob Reiner’s mother.
- Ronni: 10 Things I Hate About You – Another classic adaption from the 90s, though this time it’s one of the Bard’s, The Taming of the Shrew. This film features the late, great Heath Ledger, playing Patrick Verona (Verona!!!!), the modernised version of Petruchio. Expect to fall in love, to laugh (a lot) and to cry (also a lot, if you’re me) but there is less quasi-torturing in this reimagining than in the original, which is always a plus! The soundtrack is also excellent and you’ll never get I Want You To Love Me out of your head. I dare you – men, women and non-binary folk alike – not to go a bit gooey when Patrick serenades Kat with I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You…
- Shuggie: 500 Days of Summer – So Romance movies tend to have a formula. It’s boy meets girl, they fall in love, one of them messes up, then a big romantic ending and they end up together. That’s one of the great things about 500 Days of Summer, it’s a fresh take on the genre. Telling the story of a relationship between Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tom and Zooey Deschanel’s Summer from beginning to end over 500 days. It’s something new, original, and moving. Gordon-Levitt is fantastic in the central role and he carries the film brilliantly. In particular the expectation and reality scene stands out as one of the best constructed scenes in modern cinema.
- Ronni: 500 Days of Summer – Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in this exemplar of the romcom genre and I honestly can’t decide who I fancy more. The narrative structure, flipping as it does back and forth between the said 500 days, gives the film a real edge to stand out from your typical American romance, especially when combined with the truly stellar soundtrack. Whilst I love the setting of a greetings cards writing company, plus the inversion of the generic gender norms which would usually portray a woman chasing after an emotionally unavailable man, my favourite aspect of this film is how my own reaction to it has changed over the years. I’ve gone from resenting Summer to understanding that the real culprit is Tom’s selfish projection of his own desires despite Summer being clear about what she wanted. One day, I will shout “I HATE THIS SONG!” on a bus and everyone will get the reference and clap and probably lift me onto their shoulders.
- Shuggie: 10 Things I Hate About You – Heath Ledger, before he was the Joker, was one of the best leading men in rom-coms. 10 Things was the perfect film for him. Whilst at the start it may appear that Joseph Gordon Levett’s character is the main focus it later switches to Ledger who gets to demonstrate his charm, humour, and even singing talents. A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew which fits perfectly into high school life. 10 Things takes Shakespeare and turns it into a funny, relatable and moving high school story, where the emotional climax of the film, brilliantly delivered by Julia Stiles, never fails to make me cry.
- Ronni: Roman Holiday – Audrey Hepburn, princesses and Rome, as if I could do anything but love this film. Gregory Peck finds a sleepy and moody young woman asleep on a bench; unbeknownst to him, she is a crown princess on a royal tour of Europe. The two spend a day of sightseeing and Italian stereotypes, and everything about the 50s aesthetic is beautiful – just don’t expect today’s Rome to replicate it at all, else the packed Spanish Steps and the huge queue at the Bocca della Verità will be very disappointing. This film will leave you with warm and squishy feelings for days and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be asking “D’you like it?” in a breathy, regal voice at every opportunity.
- Shuggie: Juno – Not only was Juno one of the best films of recent years, but it also gave us one of the best characters. Ellen Page’s performance as Juno was on the surface a cool and sarcastic teen, who got pregnant after sleeping with her friends Bleeker, but actually has so much depth to performance that made everyone who watched the film fall in love with the character. As a whole the film deals with what could have been a very difficult subject very well, neither glorifying nor demonising, instead just giving us a good, emotional story that saw the film gain a best picture nomination at the Oscars and a best screenplay win.
- Ronni: Moonrise Kingdom – No list of my favourite films would be complete without Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest Hotel auteur’s enchanting aesthetic is in full force in this quiet and quirky story of a khaki scout and young actress who fall in love via letters and decide to run away together. Marriage (non-binding…) and attempted murder (with lefty scissors) ensue for the two 12 year olds in this tale of young love / coming-of-age, which explores delinquency and childhood abandonment whilst never becoming too dark nor trivialising young people’s feelings. Funny, gentle and utterly gorgeous, I could watch this film one hundred times before I got bored of it and I recommend it to anyone who will listen to me.
So thats our Top 5 Romance Films. What do you think? What are your favourites of the genre?