14 Romance Films That Aren’t Awful for Valentine’s Day

Originally for the Prince Charles Cinema: http://jeffgoldblumslaugh.com/2014/02/12/14-romance-films-that-arent-awful/



“Why 14?” I hear you ask…because that’s how many I thought of that’s why! Who says these listy things have to stick to 5’s or 10’s? Shah, I spit in the face of convention…then apologise and politely hand convention a tissue because that’s just plain rude.

Valentine’s day looms like a great big loomy thing – for those in a relationship there’s pressure to do the perfect thing in the knowledge that your plans will be presented as a Facebook post with accompanying filtered Instagram picture for all to judge you on. For those not in a relationship there’s this pressure to be all anti-romance and shun emotion for twenty four hours – fuck cupid in his little meddling quiver…unless he likes that kind of thing, in which case you’re in serious danger of contradicting the whole concept.

I don’t think this is the way to go. Yes Valentine’s day is a ridiculous thing, yes if you appreciate/love someone you should do it everyday not just one day a year, yes there’s commercial and marketing evilness marbled throughout the experience like manky blue cheese but – it’s a tradition thing, and if we abandon and neglect these cultural milestones everything tends to get a little duller – a year without Christmas, without birthdays, without pancake day, without Halloween is a much greyer place and who wants to live in that world besides the Grinch, my friend Sam and Jehovah’s Witnesses?

That’s not to say you should irritate everyone around you with your soppy romantic drivel, but embrace the spirit of the thing, and if you are going to watch a film I say watch a romance, but  please watch a decent one – a general rule of thumb – if it contains Jennifer Aniston, Lindsay Lohan  or Matthew McConaughey (pre 2011) in the cast, the number “2” in the title, the plot is primarily about a wedding or the person who recommends the film to you watches reality TV – run…run for your life and don’t look back.

So here’s my rundown (in no particular order) of the top romance films that don’t make you want to scoop out your eyeballs with a rusty melon-baller.


The musical genius of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova coupled with a charming and naturalistic tone make Once a superb film all round – Perfect for those looking for something musical and low key.

Once plays at the PCC on 23 March – details here

500 Days of Summer

The refreshing rom com in a indie exterior with an original take on the classic romance – Perfect for new couples or first dates.

2 Days in Paris

Julie Delpy stars, writes, edits, directs, produces, composes (she’ll even come round and press play for you) this quirky, modern romantic gem with a snarky edge – Perfect for those with a partner from another country.

Before Trilogy

Why not watch all three?! Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight are a trifecta of excellent performances, the result of collaborative writing and a fascinating character and relationship study over three decades – Perfect for those in a long term relationship.

The Before Trilogy plays at the PCC on 15 Feb – details here

High Fidelity

Fourth wall breaking, narration laden and witty. A funny and thoughtful film starring John Cusack and Jack Black giving a fantastic scene stealing performance throughout – Perfect for those who usually prefer to read or if you’re a man who’s recently been through a breakup.


The adorable and stylistic Amelie is a classic film that will endure, this is a film you should have seen already, if you haven’t…now is the right time – Perfect for those who like films with subtitles and French charm.

Notting Hill

Okay, yes it’s a bit soppy and you may even groan at this one, but it’s a classic and I like it so there – Perfect for those who are a bit nostalgic and like vanilla ice-cream (but you know, really good vanilla ice-cream).

Midnight In Paris

The cheeky and whimsical Woody Allen adventure though Paris and time, it’s sweet and sentimental without becoming cloying – Perfect for writers/wannabe writers.

Annie Hall

The Original, the classic, the rite of passage, the one film on this list voted most likely to change your perspective on relationships – Perfect for traditionalists, inquisitive minds and neurotics.

Annie Hall plays at the PCC on 29 March and 13 April – details here

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Unique and visually interesting – Perfect for sci-fi fans, psychoanalysts and Emos.

When Harry Met Sally

Heart warming and classic comedy with cliché romantic speeches before they were cliché – Perfect for those who like to laugh and people…of a certain age.

Almost Famous

Not your typical romance film – really it’s a coming of age tale – but it’s a love letter to music and learning about love itself from the master Cameron Crowe – Perfect for music aficionados and those who sing Tiny Dancer at karaoke.

Almost Famous plays at the PCC on 4 April – details here


Maggie Gyllenhaal gives one of her best performances alongside James Spader in this unique look at love and BDSM – Perfect for perverts (in a good way), people who read 50 Shades of Grey and understood how awful it was and those with an open mind.

Lost in Translation

Melancholy and introspective, existential quandaries and a depressed Bill Murray – what more could you possibly ask for?! – Perfect for depressives, those struggling with what love actually means and people living abroad and are a bit homesick.

I’m sure there are others, I just might not have seen them yet – feel free to suggest your own in the comments below – and by feel free I mean do.

More about Scott Barnett.  Follow him @iamscottbarnett

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