Passion, longing and heartbreak are familiar themes, but the best romances of 2017 prove it’s still possible to spin engaging stories from fresh new perspectives...
The Big Sick
Funny, heartfelt, and intelligent, ‘The Big Sick’, directed by Michael Showalter, tells a heart-warming tale of how a couple go through the ups and downs brought about by their cultural differences. Based on the true love story between writers of the film, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, ‘The Big Sick’ explores the complications in romance. The film uses its appealing leads and cross-cultural themes to prove the standard romcom formula still has some fresh angles left to explore.
Paris Can Wait
Directed by Eleanor Coppola, ‘Paris Can Wait’ is a delightful whirlwind of romance, beautiful sights and great food. Diane Lane plays an American woman Anne whose husband’s associate Jacques (Amaud Viard), offers to drive her back to Paris. But instead of taking a direct route, the ride turns into an actual trip full of surprises.
‘Paris Can Wait’ is the debut film of Eleanor Coppola, the wife of Francis Ford. The film is filled with so many expressions and passion. We see terrific scenes of France, wonderful meals to which Jacques introduces to Anne, incredible locales, superb acting, enticingly slow pace, and delicious dialogue reminiscent of ‘My Dinner with Andre’ (1981). This is a delightful film for everybody.
The Shape of Water
A story of a lonely, mute girl Elisa (Sally Hawkins), who works as the cleaning staff of a top-secret government laboratory. As the story unfolds, she develops a unique bond with her new friend - an amphibious creature - that leads to a breathtakingly imaginative and beautiful love story. ‘The Shape of Water’ finds Guillermo Del Toro at his visually distinctive best - and matched by an emotionally absorbing story brought to life by a stellar Sally Hawkins performance.
It is this adult fairytale’s uninhibited embrace of love in all its euphoric glory that makes this film an unexpected delight. For two utterly fantastical hours, we are made to surrender our preconceptions and cheer wholeheartedly on something as outlandish as an interspecies romance.
A United Kingdom
Well-acted, solidly crafted, and all-around worthy, ‘A United Kingdom’, directed by Amma Asante, presents an absorbing look at a singular true-life love story. Based on the 2007 book ‘Colour Bar: The Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation’, the narrative draws the audience into an almost impossible romance, while addressing racial bias, interracial marriage, and reconciliation, as well as European colonisation and exploitation of Africa.
This politically charged love story is beautifully told even as the timeline of events is rearranged and compressed for a two-hour film.
‘The Lovers’ is a refreshing, funny look at love, fidelity, and family, starring Debra Winger and Tracy Letts as a long-married and completely dispassionate husband and wife. Both are in the midst of serious affairs and are increasingly committed to their new partners. But on the brink of officially calling it quits, a spark between them suddenly and unexpectedly reignites, leading them into an impulsive romance that forces them to navigate the hilarious complications of ‘cheating’ on their respective lovers. Written and directed by Azazel Jacobs, ‘The Lovers’ is a mixture of humour and powerful emotion, a sweet, intimate film about the nebulous nature of love.
Everybody Loves Somebody
Directed by Catalina Aguilar Mastretta, ‘Everybody Loves Somebody’ is a breezy, delightful and endearing romantic comedy. The bilingual film explores the seemingly perfect life of Clara Barron who feels she has accomplished everything but romance. The gorgeous Karla Souza plays a successful single lady Clara, who asks a co-worker, Asher (Ben O’Toole), to pose as her boyfriend for the weekend festivities to her parents’ wedding to avoid the dreadful questioning about why she doesn’t have a date. Unfortunately for her, Daniel (José María Yazpik), her old flame, shows up at the wedding out of nowhere. Clara must decide between going back to the past or open her heart to new and unexpected possibilities. It’s a charming and sweet comedy about love and family, carried by a strong female lead.
The Incredible Jessica James
Written and directed by James C. Strouse, ‘The Incredible Jessica James” feels fresh and exciting. The central theme of this movie deals with enduring a loss during a breakup, chasing your dreams and finding a budding romance. Navigating a break up can be difficult when your ex is all over your social media. Title character Jessica James struggles to move on post-breakup with a little help from a new friend who is also coming out of a relationship. Unlikely romance and tribulations ensue. This film felt very New York and was definitely a love letter to the theater scene in this eccentric city that never sleeps. It’s clear that the writer-director pulled from their own experiences in this story which is what makes this film so organic and refreshing to watch.