In the dimly lit glow of February, as Cupid sharpens his arrows and heart-shaped chocolates adorn store shelves, the quest for the perfect romantic film somehow intensifies. As Valentine’s Day approaches, what better way to set the mood than a curated Netflix binge featuring tales that resonate with the spectrum of romance?
The season of love demands not just a fleeting glance but a deep dive into narratives that echo the complexities of the human heart. Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise kicks off our cinematic sojourn, capturing the fleeting magic of chance encounters—a theme explored in Vanessa Caswill’s Love at First Sight, also on our list. As Jesse and Celine traverse Vienna’s enchanting streets, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s performances make this film a timeless ode to serendipitous love.
From the bustling streets of Vienna, we jet-set to the snowy landscapes of England with Nancy Meyers’ The Holiday. This delightful rom-com intertwines the lives of two women, swapping homes and continents in a quest for self-discovery. The film’s warmth lies in its ability to blend humour, heart, and a dash of enchantment, all set against a backdrop of picturesque English cottages and Hollywood glamour.
Damien Chazelle’s La La Land may have left the Netflix US library, but it continues to weave its magic as it streams in other countries. Chazelle’s homage to classic Hollywood musicals, coupled with the film’s spellbinding visuals, elevates it to a level of cinematic enchantment that lingers long after the credits roll.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love challenges conventional romantic narratives with its quirky charm. Adam Sandler delivers a remarkable performance as Barry Egan, a socially awkward man navigating the unpredictable landscape of love. Anderson’s offbeat direction, combined with the film’s unique tone, makes it a standout in the romantic comedy genre.
Avinash Arun’s Three of Us emerges as yet another unconventional yet poignant choice. This Indian film, while not strictly adhering to traditional romantic tropes, intricately weaves a story that explores memory, myths, and the inexplicable threads that bind us. It’s a poetic exploration that resonates with the universal essence of love. C/o Kancharapalem, another gem from the Indian cinematic landscape, adds layers to the romantic genre by presenting love stories across different age groups and social strata. Directed by Venkatesh Maha, the film beautifully captures the nuances of small-town life, portraying love as a force that transcends societal norms and prejudices.
Shifting gears to historical romance, Jodhaa Akbar weaves an epic tale of love against the grand canvas of Mughal India. Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the film chronicles the tumultuous yet passionate relationship between Emperor Akbar and his Rajput queen, Jodha Bai. The opulent visuals, coupled with Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai’s performances, make it a historical romance that stands the test of time. This one may not be very historically accurate, but the electrifying chemistry between the lead stars more than makes up for that.
Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love is not available to stream worldwide, which is a massive disservice to cine lovers subscribed to the streaming platform. Nonetheless, it stands as a cinematic poem about unrequited love and the melancholy of almost lovers. Set against the backdrop of 1960s Hong Kong, the film is a visually stunning exploration of repressed desires and unspoken emotions between neighbours who suspect their spouses of infidelity. Its lush cinematography and evocative score create an immersive experience that lingers in the hearts of viewers.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s iconic on-screen chemistry takes centre stage in Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail, a classic tale of love blossoming in the burgeoning digital age in the 1990s. And because no romantic journey is complete without a tear or two, we have yet another classic favourite of the genre, Nick Cassavetes’s The Notebook. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’ unforgettable performances contribute to the film’s status as a beloved tearjerker.
Claire Scanlon’s Set It Up, Craig Johnson’s Alex Strangelove, Michael Showalter’s The Lovebirds, and Susan Johnson’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before add a contemporary flair to the romantic comedy landscape on Netflix. These offer a witty and charming take on modern romance, filled with delightful surprises and genuine moments.
Best romantic films to binge on Netflix ahead of Valentine’s Day:
- Before Sunrise (1995)
- You’ve Got Mail (1998)
- In The Mood For Love (2000)
- Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
- The Notebook (2004)
- Jodhaa Akbar (2008)
- La La Land (2016)
- Set It Up (2018)
- C/o Kancharapalem (2018)
- Alex Strangelove (2018)
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
- Always Be My Maybe (2019)
- The Holiday (2006)
- Love at First Sight (2023)
- Three of Us (2023)