I can’t stomach too many romance movies these days, and I’ve always hated how romance is slipped into almost anything to garner some form of padding for the plot. Sometimes the love between two people is sweet, and many times it’s worthy of a groan and an eye roll. So, I thought of my favorite romances, and as expected, the list is slim, but hot damn, these movies are still great.
The Getaway (1972)
It’s almost impossible to write a list about romance films and not include something from McQueen. Although, “The Getaway,” one of my favorite action films of all time, and my favorite from McQueen, it’s the unlikely candidate, but it’s technically a romance, and a damn good one. Doc McCoy is a man in prison whose own wife Carol is sleeping with almost anyone so she can to ensure his safety. And finally her sleeping around has granted him a release from jail. But, oddly enough, he treats her like crap. Whether it’s resentment for rescuing him, or resentment for having to sleep around in order to rescue him, the relationship between McQueen and McGraw is as hot on-screen as it was off.
They love each other to death, even if they hardly get along. One of my favorite scenes in the film involves McCoy slapping Carol to kingdom come after she decides to blast Jack Beynon, much to Doc’s surprise, in his office. McCoy’s character is defined in that instance as in a fit of panic, Carol turns the gun on him, and he prepares to shoot back. Alongside the road, he slaps her repeatedly, which is a scene that always makes me laugh. If you know a lot about McQueen, you’ll know why. The slaps McQueen gives McGraw are all real, and the screams and struggling from her are also real. It’s a hysterical scene, but also it defines their relationship as accomplices, and lovers. I watch “The Getaway” every three months. It’s the best McQueen ever offered. Also, it’s hard to hate the rib fight between Fran and Rudy. “I don’t… like this game… anymore!!”
The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)
Father and daughter Jack and Rose love each other. A lot. A lot. I mean it, a lot. Jack and Rose spend an awfully large amount of time on an old commune that has been abandoned thanks to rebuilding of suburbs and whatnot. And Jack and Rose don’t need anyone else. Now Jack has met a gorgeous single mom who has decided to move into the island with her demented sons, and Rose is pissed. And jealous. But mostly jealous. I recall a moment while watching this where my sister remarked, “I think she’s in love with her dad.” That was hard to figure out, thanks a lot.
And, how utterly uncomfortable was the sequence where Jack and Rose finally lock lips? Gross. Camilla Bell in her usual hit or miss accuracy is creepy and oddly appealing as the ill-raised Rose who has been convinced, through no fault of her dad’s, that all she needs in the world is Jack and Jack alone. But Jack has cancer, and now he’s vainly attempting to wean his daughter off of him and on to new people, but it’s clear from minute one that in a past life, these two were meant for one another, and were given the ultimate practical joke of being father and daughter. Daniel Day Lewis is utterly fantastic as this man who begins to notice his daughter’s true feelings once the outsiders arrive, and Rose begins to rebel in disturbing ways. A romance for the ages.
He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (2002)
Don’t you hate it when the woman who is in love with you tries to bash your brains in? I do. Audrey Tatou shocked and appalled me with this twisted romance thriller about this young girl who can’t quite take the hint. Still coming off of her role from “Amelie” I was surprised to see her as this young woman Angelique who is unable to let her boyfriend go. She sees him with a different woman and often thinks about him, all to no avail. But then director Colombani twists the story, and scenarios around for the audience and we then realize, hell, she’s not a jilted lover, she’s actually his stalker! But, is her love any less pure? I’d say no, good sir. Tatou is a living doll, and I’d be able to forgive being smashed in the head and knocked down stairs by her if it meant sleeping beside her at night. Love overcomes many obstacles, my friends. Many obstacles.
Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992)
Not many people enjoy this, but next to Castle’s Bela Lugosi starrer, this is for my money the best Dracula interpretation ever made. Coppola not only created his own unique vision of Dracula, but the film was also, and still is utterly compelling to watch. Hell, I won’t lie, if I were an immortal undead vampire lord, I’d be stealing other men’s women folk, too. With women around the world like Monica Bellucci, and Isabella Soprano, I’d be seducing like it’s going out of style. Coppola’s version of Dracula is still an entertaining and wonderfully directed horror flick about a man who can’t quite let go of his love.
Why he’d be interested in Winona Ryder of all people is anyone’s guess, but hell, he has the power, and the two actually manage to fall in love. Most of the lovey dubbeys are thanks in part to Dracula’s incredible power to manipulate dreams and visions, but you could sense Ryder’s Mina fell deep for the man with chompers, even if he was older than dust. The love triangle between Dracula, Mina, and Jonathan is still awfully nail-biting, and it’s just never easy to admit you’ve been replaced by a demon of the night. And there is of course the cameo from Monica Bellucci which is nothing to sneeze at.
Zombie Honeymoon (2004)
Don’t take the title too seriously, because the movie is excellent enough without you prejudging it. “Zombie Honeymoon” proves that love conquers all, and some women will stand by their men be they abusive, drunkards, disabled, and even the undead. With a hefty amount of low expectations, director Gebroe completely surprises with a heart wrenching and brutally morbid tale of Denise and Danny. Y’see, Denise and Danny are newlyweds who are on their honeymoon, and while spooning, wouldn’t ya know it, Danny is attacked by a mysterious figure who spews black bile all over him.
This kills Danny, who then re-emerges as a zombie. His hunger for meat becomes uncontrollable, and Denise decides to brush the elephant in the room under the rug. Which Danny eats. Played with utter grace, stars Coogan and Sibley convinced me they were newlyweds, and Coogan kept me on her side even when letting her best friends be chomped on by the zombified Danny. Hell, this is a romance that surpasses life. If you’re actually looking for an original film that you or your wife/girl-friend can enjoy, then this would be a surefire crowd pleaser. While you’re oohing and aahing at the above par visual effects, make up, gore, violence, horror, and zombies, your wife can enjoy the very good performances, heart wrenching story, and genuine characterization.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Scott Pilgrim is dating a high schooler named Knives, and is in a band with his ex girlfriend Kim. He has found a new girl he’s in to named Ramona Flowers, but Ramona wants nothing to do with him. And Scott hasn’t told Knives that he isn’t in to her anymore. Knives gets the news that Scott has dumped her and becomes a psychotic fan girl who begins dating Scott’s band make Young Neil. Scott meanwhile has to prove his love to Ramona Flowers by fighting her seven evil exes in many forms of combat including fire balls and magical dragons. Scott’s ex-girlfriend is also the leader of a famous rock band, the bassist of which also happens to be an evil ex of Ramona’s named Todd. Scott’s gay friend Wallace is also romancing Scott’s sister’s current boyfriend without her knowledge, and Scott now has to figure out if he loves Ramona, and if she’s worth fighting for. Man, the Scott Pilgrim universe is filled with many unusual love triangles.
Lee Holloway is a young woman who spends most of her time inflicting harm on herself, and has been committed by her family to discovering to why she is prone to mutilating portions of her body. Lee is a girl who really does revel in self inflicted pain and intends live a normal life without the addiction that keeps her isolated from everyone else in her life. With a mediocre boyfriend, an underwhelming life, and a new job she gets what she wants. But when she finds out her boss is a sadomasochistic man who loves his women to be submissive and willing to bend to his sexual demands, Lee soon has her cake and eats it too.
Forming a sexual relationship with her boss Edward, she learns the sexual pleasure of pain by being his submissive lover who withstands his discipline with pure orgasmic glee that transforms in to a genuine romance. Through the course of the story, Edward learns that it’s okay to love domination, while Lee soon finds the perfect mate in a man who knows how to inflict pain on her that can also supply sexual satisfaction.
Harold and Maude (1971)
Harold is a well to do and young wealthy man who has a lot going for him, and unfortunately has to spend most of his time being set up with girls he has no interest in. Rather than turn them down, he traumatizes them with his odd fascination with death. Including his car of choice, a hearse custom made for his use. He also stages his own deaths and suicides, and even horrifies a military recruitment official who wants him to attend the military. When Harold attends a funeral during his free time, fate steps in when he meets Maude.
Maude is a woman equally obsessed with death and mortality, and spends most her time dwelling on the inevitability. At first the romance between a seventy year old and a boy barely in his mid twenties may seem unusual, but “Harold and Maude” defines a unique romance that is also quite compelling and touching to witness. Through romance and love they realize that life is worth living. Maude gets her last gasp of love in her old age, while Harold finds out that true love exists as his life is before him.