Joan Crawford once said, “Love is a fire. But if it’s going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell. Romance movies have a compelling ability to captivate audiences, while illustrating the harsh reality that not all great love stories end happily ever after. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here are 10 spellbinding romance movies to watch, alone or with that special someone.
You’ve probably heard phrases like “Here I’m watching you, kid” and “We’ll always have Paris.” Some of the most notable quotes in movie history come from the iconic 1942 romance film “Casablanca.” Directed by Michael Curtiz, it stars big-screen icons Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as two war-torn individuals with a shared past and unhappy adoration for each other. “Casablanca” features American expat and club owner Rick Blaine (Bogart), who must make a difficult decision involving the woman he so desperately desires (Bergman).
“Casablanca” is available to stream on HBO Max.
If you’ve ever dreamed of witnessing a feel-good ‘love at first sight’ story, look no further than Richard Linklater’s 1995 romance film ‘Before Sunrise’. American tourist Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Parisian student Céline (Julie Delpy) meet on a train with two different destinations in mind. After what seems like endless hours of conversation producing an undeniable spark between them, Jesse convinces Celine to go down with him to Vienna. The film centers on their spontaneous night and their arduous separation as dawn approaches.
“Before Sunrise” is available for rental or purchase online.
Romeo + Juliet
Director Baz Luhrmann fascinates an audience of hopeless romantics with his screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless classic “Romeo + Juliet.” Released in 1996, its story follows the titular forbidden lovers, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, from two rival families. With naive hearts and curious minds, they fall in love and experience an ethereal connection, only to face the consequences and pay the price that comes with being star-crossed lovers.
“Romeo + Juliet” is available for rental or purchase online.
10 things i hate about you
There’s no doubt that most great love stories were inspired by the great William Shakespeare’s keen and timeless eye for romance. Loosely based on his comedy “The Taming of the Shrew,” this 1999 romantic comedy-drama starring the late Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles is no ordinary corny romance flick.
High school pagan Patrick (Ledger) is given a challenge: eliminate the most insufferable girl in school (Stiles) and make her fall in love with him. In the end, Patrick certainly finds himself in love with her back, but will he be able to tell the truth before the truth falls apart and his chance is ruined?
“10 Things I Hate About You” is available to stream on Disney Plus.
Chow (Tony Leung) is an editor who has moved into an apartment in Hong Kong with his often troubled wife. Although his wife pretends to be on a business trip, Chow feels lonely and meets Su (Maggie Cheung), who also seems to be suffering from marital loneliness. The two eventually discover that their loved ones are having affairs and later find themselves in love. However, they refuse to align their morals with that of their cheating partners. Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 romance film brings to life a love story that involves endless longing.
“In the Mood for Love” is available to stream on the Criterion Channel.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
In some cases, love doesn’t last forever. This shocking truth is illustrated in the 2005 sci-fi romance film starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. Written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry, the film follows a couple who go through the stages of a difficult breakup.
Clementine (Winslet) undergoes a procedure to forget her memories with her ex-lover Joel (Jim Carrey). When Joël becomes aware of Clémentine’s intentions, he too tries to “erase” her from his memory. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” shines a light on the lessons of love and loss.
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is available to rent or stream online.
Pride and Prejudice
Released in 2005, director Joe Wright’s screen adaptation brings Jane Austen’s literary classic to life. Elizabeth Bennett (Keira Knightley) is a young woman with fierce tenacity and a tendency to speak her mind. As Bennett’s second oldest daughter, she is expected to marry soon. Just as Elizabeth decides marriage is a frivolous affair, she meets the ever stern and cynical Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen). When they meet, their respective views on love slowly but drastically change.
“Pride and Prejudice” is available to stream on HBO Max.
500 days of summer
Director Marc Webb’s 2009 romantic drama centers on Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) as they maneuver through a complex relationship based on unrequited love. Tom is devastated when Summer unexpectedly breaks up with him, leaving him to recount 500 days of experiences and encounters with her to figure out when and where things went wrong. By bending over backwards to try to mend his one-sided relationship, Tom eventually comes to terms with the truth.
“500 Days of Summer” is available to stream on Hulu.
call me by your name
Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name” is one of those love movies that is sure to become a classic one day. It stars Timothée Chalamet as the defiantly 17-year-old Elio Perlman and Armie Hammer as an intern doctoral student for Elio’s father in Lombardy, Italy, in the summer of 1983. Elio finds himself in love with Oliver, while Oliver finds himself in love with Elio’s tentative idea as he must ultimately return to his life at home, where his fiancee is waiting for him.
“Call Me By Your Name” is available to stream on Hulu.
Portrait of a lady on fire
Céline Sciamma’s 2019 period romance film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” follows two women in 18th-century France: born aristocrat Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) and painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant).
Héloïse’s mother plans to marry her off to a man she has never met before, and she hires Marianne to draw a portrait of her daughter as a gift to her future suitor. However, Héloïse defiantly refuses to adhere to her mother’s rules, forcing Marianne to accompany her and memorize her distinctive physical features to continue working on the portrait in secret. Bound by their isolation and solidarity as women, the two inevitably fall in love.
Click here to read The Maroon’s full review for 2020’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is available to stream on Hulu.