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Love and relationships in film

LoveHeart.jpgSo we have the final part of Filmstalker's look at the films in 2009 to come but that's been delayed by the BAFTA's and Valentines day, and it's the latter that we're visiting here. It's the day that companies round the world have raised their prices for and tell us we're allowed to say “I Love You”. Okay, that's a cynical viewpoint, and it's one that definitely is not represented in film.

But what are the films that describe the best relationship between two characters in love? It seems that all too often it's about unexplored or unfulfilled love, and that really is a sad thing, but it makes for a great film.

So on valentines day, and commercialism aside, what are the films that you think tell the most heart warming and heart wrenching stories of love? For me, it's very clear and there are some film titles that leap out at me and scream “love”, and the winner is undoubtedly British, the home of reserved feelings and unannounced love.

Did I say a British film, look this isn't in any order. I have my personal favourites in here and I know the running order I'd put them in, but this isn't all aboiut me, really it isn't. These choices are to get you started.

This is a great film that shows a more realistic edge to relationships, although with some rather large comic twists. It also marks one of Nicolas Cage's greatest performances, although really that's not saying much! However paired with Cher they have a great chemistry, far from your typical lovers they are sharp, hurtful, attacking, filled with baggage, guarded, and very much in love.

This is one of my favourite films. Always describes one of the best romantic relationships I've ever seen, and Holly Hunter and Richard Dreyfuss are entirely convincing in this remake of A Guy Named Joe by Steven Spielberg. It's beautifully filmed and lit, and with the inspirational choice of Audrey Hepburn playing either an angel or god herself.

We see a couple who are very much in love but a man who is scared to take that next step, or reluctant to do it just in case he loses what they have already, and not just what they have but also what he has. He loves flying and putting out fires, but taking that next step means giving that up and making her the focus of his life.

He finally decides to make that choice and leaves flying, but one last trip ends in disaster and he's killed. That's where the love story begins though, and this is more about learning to let go and being unselfish in love, and it's heart wrenching.

Now there's a relationship story that we all know, and once again it's about a love that never really seems to get its chance. There's the hint that it was in the past but that it ended very badly, but this time around it's definitely not going to happen, although both characters seem to really want it to. The story tells us how love isn't the only factor in relationships, and sometimes life and outside events show that two people can't be together, different circumstances maybe, and that makes it so much harder when they have to say goodbye. When they know what could have been or could be if they changed the circumstances around them, but there are sacrifices to make in the name of war, whatever war you're fighting.

Love Actually
Now here's a film which manages to cover just about every aspect of relationships there are. For me there are two clearly winning stories, the unrequited love from Mark to Juliet aka Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley is wonderfully told, and the moment of the reveal with the videotape is gut wrenching, as is the comeback from Mark with the carol singing. I'm so glad that the story isn't spoiled by the film-makers in the final moments, although there's a huge moment where you think it might be.

Then there's the more simpler story between Jamie and Aurelia aka Colin Firth and Lúcia Moniz is the story of realising that love is right in front of your eyes, and just by leaving what is in the past you can so easily find what's in your future. It also reflects some great moments about what a true relationship is all about, giving, learning and sacrifice.

Talking of sacrifice, I think Laura Linney gives a great performance, and while you might initially think that her story of love is about Sarah's desire for Karl, played by Rodrigo Santoro, it's actually about her sacrifice and love for her brother Michael, played by Michael Fitzgerald.

Now that I start thinking about it, Love Actually carries many more excellent stories about relationship and love, and I really do love the addition of the Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman story aka Karen and Harry. This is a bittersweet tale and shows what temptation and desire is compared to love and commitment.

The Bridges of Madison County
This film really blew me open to what Clint Eastwood was all about, not just guns and growls. In this film he shows his slow and deliberate directing and that he actually has a strong acting talent, of course the wonderful Meryl Streep does provide ample help with her fantastic performance.

What this relationship shows is the slow burning love, a small attraction and how it builds into something a lot larger and more significant in these people's lives. It's a chance meeting that takes hold in circumstance but starts to spread significant roots that reach through their lives, and even into their children's lives.

It's beautifully considered film, and it's one of the few where you really see a relationship evolve in almost real time. People use the word subtle to describe some cinema, well here this really does have true meaning.

Brief Encounter
David Lean brings us this superb film from 1945 that tells of two aspects of relationships that we see throughout film and life today, falling for someone through a chance meeting and the temptation outside of your normal life and relationship.

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard play the couple, both married to other people, who have a chance meeting in a railway station café, and as their meetings continue each week, they know that the growing feelings between them of love are actually doomed.

Frankie and Johnny

Al Pacino and Michelle Pfieffer seem an unlikely couple, even if they have appeared before in a relationship on screen in Scarface that couple certainly don't belong in here. However Frankie and Johnny do.

Frankie has been released from prison with a new outlook on life and is determined to make it all work, and at a breakneck speed. So when he becomes a short order cook and his eye catches the waitress, he's determined not to let things pass him by, she on the other hand, is a lot more wary of the man, particularly when she finds out his past.

They have a great little love story between them, and the film keeps it all restrained and small, and that works wonderfully when Pacino takes that to heart for his acting too. Both come with baggage, one has already decided to leave theirs behind, the other is clinging onto it desperately.

There's a big message of acceptance, and again of letting go in this film, but most of all of taking a chance for love.

For me these are some films that are clear winners in the love and relationship arena, and some of them would be perfect to be watching on Valentine's Day, or any other day for that matter, when you want a bit of love and romance in your life.

Get the romantic munchies, the red wine, and get one of these on the small screen, then get comfy on that sofa.

Before you do though, or even after, what films describe the relationship of love for you? Do you agree with any of my choices, or maybe you think they stink and have an entirely different view of love in film?



Richard and I were twitterring back and forth this afternoon when he twitterred that this new feature is something that I would enjoy. I suppose the man knows women too well, that rom-coms, chick flicks are absolutely our thing. See for some women, if true love can not be found in real life, there's the movies to fall back on. To quote Rosie O'Donnell's character in Sleepless in Seattle, it's a movie, you want to fall in love in a movie! So without further ado, here's my personal list of films that I think depicts love and relationships in more ways than one.

1. Persuasion- High marks for this 1995 BBC adaptation of the Jane Austen classic novel. The gist is about a man and a woman who once loved each other so much but their relationship was put to a stop because she was persuaded at the time that he wasnt a good catch, not having a title or any means to recommend himself but several years later, they meet again and they have to persuade themselves to fall in love again. Ciaran Hinds' Captain Wentworth was excellent as the proud but still smitten ex-boyfriend to Amanda Root's still carrying the torch and very sensible Anne.

2. Sense and Sensibility- This is the film version of another Jane Austen novel that was beautifully adapted by Emma Thompson. It shows two sisters take on love and relationships, one with conplete abandon, no restraints, no fear in Kate Winslet's Marianne, as opposed to the enduring and cautious Elinor played by Thompson. One of the key moments here was Hugh Grant's character's proposing to Elinor and this should have been the time that would require her to show a bit more control but damn the rules, she gave way to her tears and sobbed freely. The last I heard was men who saw this film really loved this part of the movie. ;)

3. Crossing Delancey- This is probably a really obscure rom-com film for some people, but I remember seeing this in the cinema and have been trying to get the DVD to no avail. Amy Irving's character is being matchmade by her grandmother to Peter Riegert, a local pickle shop owner in Delancey Street in New York. She feels that he is too working class, and perhaps unsophisticated for her tastes but things happen in the film and they end up together. I thought that sometimes we do this and not give people a chance because of our prejudices but as if on cue, love saves the day.

4. The Jane Austen Book Club- Okay, not another Jane Austen movie! When I first heard that there was a book called The Jane Austen Book Club written by Karen Joy Fowler I thought, come on is this going to rip off everything that is holy and sacred about Jane Austen’s work? I didnt bother getting the book or reading any reviews until I found out that they have made a film adaptation. This film as it turned out, put an excellent spin on the lives and loves of Jane Austen’s well-loved characters told in the eyes of modern men and women. In the same way that Austen’s characters will experience trouble at first, eventually the characters in her books did get everything they desired as the film ended with a hopeful future, and they all lived happily ever after. Again, like what they often do in the movies!

5. Serendipity- Since we're talking about far from reality love stories, that can seem to only happen in the movies, this film should be in that category. The characters of John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, John and Sara, met only once around X'mas in New York and they were separated the same evening after she insisted that if they were destined to be together as they were with other people at that time, the five dollar bill where he wrote his name and phone number and the first edition of the Love in the Time of CHolera book where she wrote her name and number will find its way to either of them, that is the time to be together which is of course how the film progressed. I believe in looking at certain signs, like if I meet someone who also loves Star Wars then by all means, he must be the one! Or that if we both think The Godfather is the best film ever made I should marry him, that sort of silly thing. Classic moment of the film is how Cusack got the book, so if you havent seen it, get it on rental!

I suppose there's more films I could add which also includes the ones Richard already mentioned (Like Moonstruck, Bridges of Madison County, Always) but these are the ones that stand out at this time of my life. The list might change so ask me again when I turn 40, which is ehr, soon!

Great topic as always Richard and keep the flames of love alive with you and Z not just on this commercial day but every moment of every passing day.


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