Last Friday, we asked you to tell us which movies helped shape your view of romance. From your answers, we chose 10 that in our opinion best represent romance in its most contemporary form.
1. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind — The Final Scene
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel and Clementine get so sick of each other and are so damaged by their own relationship that they opt to erase all memory of each other from their minds.
And then, in the final scene, they decide to fall in love all over again.
Joel: I can’t see anything that I don’t like about you.
Clementine: But you will! But you will. You know, you will think of things. And I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped because that’s what happens with me.
Clementine: [pauses] Okay.
Why This Defines Modern Romance: Eternal Sunshine un-romanticizes the idea of love as just another, hopeless form of self-induced psychological torment. And that’s kind of romantic.
2. Spiderman — The Kiss
The Spiderman movie takes the archetypal kiss in the rain (seen in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Cinema Paradiso, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and eroticizes it further with the simple inversion of of body positions (he is upside down) and inclusion of a mask.
Why This Defines Modern Romance: Mary Jane has a chance to see who Spiderman really is, but chooses instead to keep his identity a mystery, unmasking him only enough to kiss him. She’s playing with the damsel-in-distress role, but has just as much control of the situation as he does.
3. 500 Days Of Summer — Ikea Date Scene
It’s got all the elements of the Hipster Dream Date: retro-chic, a play on nostalgia with a nod to contemporary American mass-consumption, set to indie music, and completely adorable. You could hear the collective sigh of urban 20-somethings across the country as this scene played…
Why This Defines Modern Romance: It looks like the perfect date, but at the end of the movie, Summer and Tom don’t end up together. Because though they had an amazing date, and a meaningful relationship, she didn’t really love him. Sometimes love is like that: it doesn’t mean the Ikea date wasn’t worth the while.
4. The Crying Game — Fergus Takes The Rap
It’s one of the most truly selfless acts in cinema: protagonist Fergus sacrifices his freedom and goes to jail for a murder he did not commit, all to protect the person he loves. It’s doubly romantic because his object of affection is transexual Dil–Fergus fell in love with Dil as a woman, but continued to love her after learning she’s a transexual, proving that his love defies stereotype or gender.
Why This Defines Modern Romance: This scene is especially poignant because of the scene which proceeds it: Dil has tied Fergus to a bed and has him at gunpoint. She asks him whether he loves her, and he says he does. Dil doesn’t believe him, but says it’s nice to hear the words anyway. It isn’t until later that Fergus actually proves his love with his actions.
5. Manhattan — It’s Crazy! It’s Crazy.
It’s so ridiculous, you know, it’s just really really crazy, we live in an age of science, we are rational people, we are cultured and educated, and then we meet someone and all these things start happening to us!
Mary: It’s crazy. It’s crazy! I think about you when you’re not around.
Yale: What do you want me to do?
Mary: Nothing! I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Why This Defines Modern Romance: Because sometimes, despite everything, we’re not as modern as we think we are.
6. Before Sunset — Nina Simone
It’s like a twisted version of An Affair To Remember: two lovers who arranged to meet in six months time, and then, one doesn’t show up. 9 years later, both have moved on with their lives, but they meet again in Paris, and spend a chaste afternoon together, during which their lasting feelings for each other become clear.
Ethan Hawke has a plane to catch, but he can’t seem to move from Julie Delpy’s apartment, where she’s dancing around to Nina Simone. “Baby, you are going to miss that plane!” she purrs. “I know.” is his reply–and the movie ends on her dancing.
Why This Defines Modern Romance: So sexy, in the most understated way possible. Sometimes things don’t work out with someone right away, and sometimes things are complicated, and sometimes you get a second chance at love. Whatever the case, modern love isn’t Boy Meets Girl, they fall in love, and live happily ever after anymore.
7. Say Anything
What’s the modern version of a missive, a glove, or a sonnet? Usually a song, more often than not someone else’s, since so few of us are possessed with musical talent enough to express our true feelings.
So, like Lloyd Dobler, we rely on others to woo our lovers, and when words fail us we solemnly stand by and wait while the music does its work.
Why It Defines Modern Romance: Because just because we let someone else do the talking/singing/expressing doesn’t mean we aren’t feeling every word of it.
8. Love Actually — To Me, You Are Perfect
Juliet is married to his best friend, but Mark loves her anyway, and after doing his best to hide the fact, he decides to proclaim his love on Christmas Eve.
Why It Defines Modern Love: This is love “without hope or agenda”: he’s not asking her to run away with him, or to love him even, but merely to hear him out. Which she very sweetly does.
9. Jerry Maguire — You Had Me At Hello
“We live in a cynical, cynical world,” Jerry says. Is there room for flowery speeches in the modern world? Not really.
Why It Defines Modern Romance: Love in the workplace! Love in a cynical world! Love in a time where a cheesy “you complete me” probably WILL be met with a “shut up!”, and if you’re lucky, followed up with an embarrassed, but earnest, “you had me at hello.”
10. Wall-E — Eve Fixes Wall-E
He’s been brave and valiant throughout the entire movie, traveling all the way to the space station in order to save his beloved Eve. But at the end of the movie, it’s Wall-E that’s in need of some rescuing..
Why It Defines Modern Romance: Rescuing isn’t a one-way street: in a modern relationship,
partners take turns rescuing and being rescued. We like that in Wall-E the girl ended up having the final Knight In Shining Armor moment.