Romancing the Screen

People tell me that I am a romantic.  I don’t think I am.  I suppose I believe that romance can be wonderful but I place no faith in its staying power.

I certainly have little patience for what passes for romance movies nowadays.  A quick survey of recent romance movies will reveal highly contrived and unrealistic story lines.  Let’s see, there’s the story of a woman who is always the bridesmaid and never the bride…..27 times (27 Dresses).  Or it could be that the man realises he loves his long time best friend but only after she gets engaged to someone else and asks him to be her honor attendant (Made of Honor).  Or where hot romance only occurs with stone cold brooding vampires (Twilight).  Then there is a tale of the career driven executive woman who needs to be posted to a factory in the Minnesotan winter wilderness before she can find love in her arch enemy, the union representative (New in Town). Or she is a school teacher who is having an affair with a student’s father and having a baby with her estranged husband (Then She Found Me).

I am not saying that these are not necessarily bad movies.  They may be good to watch but   they are stories of an idealised sense of romance under very unique circumstances which quite frankly  relates to very few of us.  I certainly hope none of us have been the bridesmaid for 27 friends or had to run a plant in the frozen north or are so awkward, we find understanding only from the undead.  Similarly, none of us age backwards like Benjamin Button or have had the extraordinary talent and life of Forrest Gump.

But would you watch a movie about  a boy and a girl meeting on a train and then spending the day talking to each other until they part the next morning.  Yup, they talk and they walk and nothing much else happens except that they make that rare connection of the souls.  Well, I watched such a movie and I think there was a rare confluence of talent from the writer, director and actors which resulted in the movie that I consider one of the greatest romance movies ever.  There is nothing special about the boy or the girl.  It could be you.  It could be me.

I refer to the movie, Before Sunrise.  This 1995 movie was written by  Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan, directed by Linklater and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  Ethan’s American character, Jesse, is traveling through Europe on a railpass when he meets Julie’s French character, Celine, on the train on the day before he flies back to the USA from Vienna.  The movie is just entirely about how they discover each other in the few hours they spend together walking around Vienna.  The ending was cleverly left open-ended until the sequel, Before Sunset, picks up the story 9 years later.

If you have never watched either movie, I totally recommend watching both, one after the other.  The video clip below comes from near the end of Before Sunset and Celine sings this wonderfully simple song to Jesse.  It was a great way to end the story.  The song was actually written and sung by Julie Delpy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

What are your all-time favorite romantic movies?

13 thoughts on “Romancing the Screen”

  1. If I was to pick one favorite romantic movie, Before Sunrise would be it! The sequel was good too, but I´m not at all as much in love with it as the first movie. And yes, I´m a hopeless romantic. And no, it never works. But that doesn´t help…

  2. Thanks for the tip I’ll put it on my list. I love romantic/ drama movies The first one which comes to mind is The man who cried. Maybe because it has gypsies in it.

  3. Today is not a day for me to comment on romance as it is the day one of my sons married a woman that he divorced years ago. Everyone is happy about it.

  4. Like you, I too tend to shy away from chick flicks but I guess my favorite romance movie would be Out of Africa with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. And then, of course, there’s Casablanca.

  5. Riot Kitty,
    Good choice. Actually, “When Harry met Sally” is similar to “Before Sunrise” in a number of aspects but of course with Billy Crystal, the dialogue is much more “smart-assed”. 🙂

    I agree although I am glad they did not spoil it with the sequel, which would have been easy to do. As it is, it makes a good ending to the tale started 9 years previously. I like that celine turns out to be an activist working for an NGO since that was what I did for many years.

  6. Melanie,
    Have to confess that I did not watch this one. Will keep an eye out for it.

    Again gypsies? I see an obvious pattern here. Haha. Certainly some great actors in this movie.

  7. Joyce,
    Well, that sounds like a real life romantic story – the best there is.

    Mr. Charleston,
    A great choice. That was a good movie and Meryl Streep and Robert Redford are such great actors. As for Casablanca, the American Film Institute reckons that to be the best romantic movie ever. I have to confess that I have never watched it.

  8. I LOVED both those movies. They were so true to real-life weren’t they? I think my favourite romantic movie of all was “Somewhere in Time” with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. He fell in love with her picture, and travelled back in time to find her. Totally unrealistic, but a beautiful movie.

  9. Thank you for reminding me! I so need to watch these movies.

    My favourite romatic movies are the aforementioned ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and ‘Sleepless In Seattle’. Soppy as all get out!


  10. Hmm, I’ll have to check it out.

    I always liked the movie “Singles” and “When Harry met Sally”, but decent, not contrived and idiotic romantic movies are very hard to find!

  11. Jo,
    Haha. “Somewhere in Time” is pure romance but completely unreal. Totally idealistic. And I got to say…..falling in love with a picture sounds more like infatuation, don’t cha tink?

    Well, hi and welcome to the realm. I absolutely recommend that you watch those two movies. I think it appeals to both romantics and cynics. “Sleepless in Seattle” is also on my top 10 movies list.

    Chinese romantic comedies are even worse. The guys in those are always portrayed as immature clowns whose brains short-circuit in the presence of a girl with a cute smile. In one movie which strongly believes in fate, the boy and girl meet, lose touch and keep missing each other by just a few minutes throughout life until finally they live next door to each other in an apartment block but are unaware of that cause they keep missing each other on the stairwell. Until one day, there is an earthquake and the wall separating the apartments collapses and they see each other again. I nominate that for the award of most amazingly dumb story award.

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