I recently spent a pleasant afternoon in the theater watching the new movie Silver Linings Playbook, based on the book by Matthew Quick. While I enjoyed the book, I thought the movie was that rare thing—a film better than its source material. Right here is where I out myself as liking that most lowly of genres, the romantic comedy. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with watching a well told story about people falling in love, but so many modern films about romance are just so, so bad.
While Silver Linings has its share of corny moments (a dance contest? really?), it’s a finely spun tale with snappy dialogue and endearingly messed up characters. In one terrifically awkward scene, our lead characters go on a “date” where one orders tea and the other Raisin Bran—and most of the meal eventually winds up on the diner floor. I dug it.
So lucky for me, there has been a recent spate of interesting films to come into the library that I deem to be both romantic and totally acceptable entertainment. A few gems:
The lovely Michelle Williams is married to the eminently likeable Seth Rogen, but may be developing a crush on her handsome, brooding neighbor. This is less a love story, and more a story about what happens when you love someone, but you’re not sure if you’re in love with them any more—a problem for the ages.
On the surface this is a nice little film about a kooky guy (Mark Duplass) looking for a time traveling companion. It develops into something much sweeter though, a story about both love and regret, and the possibility of making up for lost time. Plus it stars Aubrey Plaza from Parks & Recreation, and she’s pretty lovely here. Also, did I mention that there might be time travel?
I couldn’t decide if this movie was romantic or anti-romantic, or even if I liked it, but it was definitely interesting. Paul Dano stars as a heartbroken writer who discovers that the dream girl he’s been writing about, the titular Ruby, has been willed into existence by his writing. As Ruby inevitably starts to go “off script,” the movie becomes something of a meta-romantic comedy.
This is a nice, quiet little film about three people hanging out in a remote cabin while they tend to old wounds, and take care of unfinished business. It’s sweetly romantic, if in an understated way, and also stars the low-key Mark Duplass.
I went into this film with low expectations (Steve Carrel and Kiera Knightly seemed like such an odd pairing) but was slowly won over. Yes, the world is ending, but not before Carrel and Knightly agree to escort each other on a road trip to tie up loose ends. Along the way they build a nice camaraderie, and then…well, the nice thing about this film is that there can be no happy ending, right? Of course, I could be wrong about that.
Honorable mention: for a TV show about spoiled, self-involved 20-somethings, HBO’s Girls has some surprisingly romantic moments, played both for laughs and pathos. And for those who’ve watched Sid & Nancy a few too many times and find it wretchedly romantic, there’s the sadly underrated German-Turkish film Head-On, a love story for people with serious problems.
So how about you? Am I missing any great recent films? What do you find romantic?