Friday the adaption of Jojo Moyes best-selling romance, Me Before You, comes to the big screen and theaters showing the movie would be smart to have tissues at the ready and buy flood insurance. Not only will that film starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin get the waterworks going, but fans on social media have made no secret that they’re looking forward to crying their eyes out (again). In fact, Moyes has been wishing tears upon audiences at screenings, some of whom are holding their Me Before You branded Kleenex (yeah, that’s right). But the romantic tear-jerker’s nothing new…and plenty provide that necessary catharsis fans are looking for. But if you can’t get to Me Before You soon enough (or seeing it ignites a desperate need for love & tears) here are five go-to romances worth seeking out.
When I saw this movie at a press screening, I honestly don’t think I saw a person in the audience walk out with dry eyes. Oscar nominated for best foreign language film, the Belgian musical drama recounts the love story of religious pragmatist Elise (Veerle Baetens) and romantic atheist Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) in a fractured narrative. While trying to cope with the tragic illness and loss of their daughter, their romance is recounted by going back and forth between the most joyful and devastating events in their life together. All the while, their rise as a musical group performing “American” folk-bluegrass provides the musical elements (beautifully performed by the actors on screen). Baetens and Heldenbergh passionate performances are something to behold (especially as the film escalates towards the end) and breaking the narrative structure throws viewers into such a sense of disorientation you really do start to feel like you’re on a rollercoaster of emotions as your nerves feel increasingly raw.
Of all the movies, this love story’s the closest I would compare to Me Before You. Perpetually gloomy wealthy Harold’s (Bud Cort) only source of entertainment seems to be his fancy new hearse and staging elaborate death scenes. And attending funerals, where he meets free-spirit Maude (Ruth Gordon). A week before her 80th birthday, her carefree life and unending sense of optimism revitalizes Harold’s life and opens him up to entirely new experiences. Together they spend the week partaking in new adventures, as their platonic relationship turns into true love. There are plenty of moments in this odd but life affirming story about the life affirming power of that might move you to tears, but the climax of the film, a montage set to Cat Stevens’s (who did all the music in the film) Trouble is one that will break any icy heart in the room.
First, let’s get it out of the way…Colin Firth’s best actor Oscar really should have been won for this tour de force performance. He’s honestly never been better. Second, I don’t know how Matthew Goode’s work in this movie went overlooked at the time that this movie came out. They only get a few scenes together, but the connection they establish in flashback’s feel so strong, it can be sensed throughout the entire movie. Professor George (Firth) grieves the loss of his beloved Jim (Goode) alone and in silence in 1960 America. Devastated by the thought of going on with life without him by his side, he wakes up on this particular day with a plan to commit suicide by the end of the day. As he moves about his typical day, moments which seemed dark begin to feel a bit more magical and precious as his time runs out…and his memories of his time with Jim seem harder and harder to simply let go of. Designer Tom Ford made his writing-directing debut (based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood) with the film that somehow turns the above scene of domestic bliss into one of the most romantic in cinema.
A British fantasy romantic dramedy starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman…basically, it’s everything you could hope for from that combo (even if you will end up a puddle on the floor). Nina (Stevenson) lives in the apartment she once shared with her late boyfriend Jamie (Rickman). Overcome by grief, Jamie returns to keep her company as a “ghost” (although unlike Ghost they can interact). But Jamie is different; moody, inviting strange fellow ghosts to squat in the apartment, and turning the apartment into a sauna because he’s always cold. Gradually, Nina begins to realize that she’d come to idealize Jamie as the perfect man because he died so unexpectedly. She slowly wanders back into the living world and starts up a relationship with a sweet new man named Mark (Michael Maloney), with Jamie watching from within their locked apartment. This has always been a favorite movie of mine (the ultimate twist is nothing short of devastating), but I have to admit that my tremendous affection for the late, great Rickman in this specific role makes the film extra special now.
I promise, there is no subplot about death or dying in this movie…just a bunch of relationship drama based on the novel Aimez-vous Brahms? by wunderkind of French bourgeois society Francoise Sagan. Ingrid Bergman plays Paula, a modern career woman living in Paris in 1960. She’s been in a long-term relationship with Roger (Yves Montand), but they refuse to marry because they don’t want their relationship to become about contracts and obligations. But Roger’s also a womanizer who’s begun a causal relationship with a much younger woman (Jocelyn Lane), which keeps him away from his commitments to Paula. In response to his betrayal and selfishness, Paula begins a May-December romance of her own with a 20-something American playboy named Philip (Anthony Perkins), whose been flirting with her since their first meeting. But Paula soon realizes his young love is far stronger than her feelings towards him, and it quickly becomes obvious that heartbreak is their destiny. To call this movie “very French” would be an understatement; not only is it filmed to highlight the city of love, but seems most interested in capturing the changing views of love and romance of the time. Despite repeated Paula constantly referring to her age, Bergman has never been sexier on screen, and despite his role of Norman Bates being just a year earlier, Perkins is completely convincing as a lovesick American in Paris.