Here at the Avenue offices, nothing seems to inspire such heated debate as the merits of the film Love Actually.
For some of us (OK, everyone) this 2003 British ensemble comedy is a feelgood Christmas-movie gem worthy of multiple viewings. For others (OK, me) it’s barely watchable treacle with a ridiculous coda that involves a young child somehow getting free run of a major airport. Needless to say, my opinion doesn’t sit well with those colleagues who consider Love Actually a triumph, inspiring one particularly incensed workmate to rhetorically question “do you even like love!?”
The answer is, of course I do. Even those of us who would way rather watch The Dude bumbling his way through L.A. for the 20th time than sit through the latest Katherine Heigl tripe like to feel all melty inside every now and then. Want proof? Here are five fantastic romantic movies that even a rom-com hater can love:
1. When Harry Met Sally
Why not start with perfection? While this 1989 flick is famous for the faked orgasm scene, it’s but one part of a total package that chronicles the decade-long romantic trajectory of whip-smart New Yorkers Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan). In addition to Nora Ephron’s superlative dialogue, there’s also a charming romantic B-story starring Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher, as well as autumn in New York set dressing. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen it.
2. Four Weddings and a Funeral
This 1994 flick made Hugh Grant a household name in a role tailor-made for his particular brand of hangdog handsomeness. As charming rogue Charles, Grant romances American Andie MacDowell over a series of British weddings complete with outlandish hats. The friendships in this film are just as heartwarming as the romantic relationships. It even manages to pull off a profession-of-love-in-the-rain scene that won’t make you cringe. Not easy to do!
In addition to Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick’s memorable boy-meets-girl-loses-girl-and-gets-girl-again plotline, this ensemble piece written and directed by Cameron Crowe has the added bonus of being a snapshot of the Seattle grunge scene at the height of its ’90s coolness. Along with the romance stuff you also get Matt Dillon’s hilarious performace as stoner-rocker Cliff, frontman of the band “Citizen Dick” played by members of Pearl Jam in a cameo appearance.
4. Sense and Sensibility
This period retelling of the Jane Austen classic comes with all the repression and Empire waists and social graces that you’ve come to expect from the genre. It’s strength, however, is a heartfelt starring performance by Emma Thompson, who’s so good here you’ll actually jump up and cheer through your tears of joy when true love finally comes her way.
5. Can’t Buy Me Love
Cheesy ’80s high-school romance at its finest: a very young, pre-Grey’s Anatomy Patrick Dempsey stars as high-school nerd Ronald Miller, who gets an unlikely boost of popularity when he bails out the school’s reigning queen bee and she pretends to be his girlfriend to repay the favour. Of course, she falls for him in the process, but Ronald is too caught up in the popularity game to notice. Eventually he comes to his senses and they ride off into the sunset together on a lawnmower. If that isn’t romantic, then I don’t know what to tell you.