Love and relationships in film
So 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.
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.
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.
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?