Favourite Romantic Movies: Love Stories From Around The World

Be it mythical or historic, love is a universal experience
Romantic Movies to Watch This Valentine's Day
Romantic Movies to Watch This Valentine's Day

Romance is a common subject in storytelling. Be it mythical (like Adam and Eve) or from the Elizabethan Era (like Romeo and Juliet), love is a universal experience. Every story has an arc of love for that matter, whether parental or brotherly or sisterly or romantic or self. However, romantic films are a special genre of their own and the following five are my favourites of the genre, from different countries:

Comet (2014) dir. Sam Esmail (America)

 Essentially a deconstruction of a romantic relationship through a non-linear narrative, Comet features a very smart-sounding screenplay. The dialogue is fast-paced, with extended monologues from the male protagonist who talks with the pseudo-intelligence born of an ego that is based on his apparent intellectual superiority over everyone else. The female protagonist challenges him at every moment that's presented to us, and it's through the battle of wits and wills that the director breaks down the concept of compatibility at a cosmic level. With allusions to parallel universes and statistical facts about marriage, the man represents an extremity of masculinity but his role is essentially that of a manic pixie dream girl. It's also this gender-reversal on the manic pixie trope and critique of the patriarchy, which I really enjoy apart from the amazing dialogue and the unique visuals, along with the ambiguous ending.

Nagarkirtan (2017) dir. Kaushik Ganguly (India)

Carried by amazing performances from both the leads (Riddhi Sen and Ritwick Chakraborty), this is an incredibly emotional story of the love between a eunuch and a man in Kolkata, who helps the eunuch run away to freedom by accepting them. Not only does this film address a very sensitive topic without shying away from presenting the harsh reality with full authenticity, it also features a cameo from Manabi Bandyopaddhay, the first openly transgender professor in India, without making it seem like a PR stunt. The emotional thread of the film is rather compelling, with its touching glimpses of acceptance and love. Be it the heart wrenching ending or the beautiful soundtrack, everything about this love story is memorable.

Testről és lélekről (2017) dir. Ildikó Enyedi (Hungary)

An amazing premise to start with – two people have the same dream, but they don't know that. As they come to learn about each other, they try to understand what this could mean. Set in a rather unromantic location (a cow slaughterhouse), it's an innovative play on the concept of soulmates, incorporating dream theories, the story is a true ode to the power of people to connect. With striking colour palettes which bring the screen to life, the film is visually engrossing, from minute one. The deafening silence in most of the scenes makes them memorable. Too much is left unsaid, and yet a million things are said through the body language. The performances of both the leads are beautifully composed. If loneliness is a disease, then being unable to connect is the symptom and On Body and Soul (the English name of the film) beautifully studies that.

O Perfume da Memória (2016) dir. Oswaldo Montenegro (Brazil)

Unfolding entirely over the course of one evening, this is a love story of twisted dimensions, with an amazing secret revealed at the very end, which changes everything and yet doesn't. The film is centered around two women, one heartbroken over a divorce and another a stranger who shows up at her door reciting the former's poems. That intrusion turns into something truly magical, as the two slowly open up to each other and establish a timeless bond in just a few hours. Walking on the beach at night is a uniquely romantic experience and something unsaid is created in that scene, which the characters keep hinting at covertly through their conversations, each afraid of the consequences of admitting to the connection they feel for the other. Alternated with scenes of two heavenly figures playing music from above as if to say this is a love story written in the stars, O Perfume da Memória is an extremely unique romantic film.

Summer with Monika (1953) dir. Ingmar Bergman (Sweden)

Summer romances are a mood of their own. The ultimate expression of youthfulness, they are these ineffably sweet bubbles of romantic exploration which live on forever in the heart. When you're aged, looking back at that one summer when you had created a special love story with someone who you probably don't even know anymore or maybe who you're married to even today is bound to make you smile. Focusing on the liveliness and the recklessness that arrives from this liberating experience of finding someone who understands you while you rot away in a terribly confined existence, Summer with Monika is a refreshing love story for the young at heart. It's endearing and endlessly passionate with an amazing performance from Harriet Anderson as the incredibly attractive Monika.

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