“Love is like the wind; you can’t see it but you can feel it.” -Nicholas Sparks
It’s nearly Christmas, and with the chime of jingle bells and the smell of home-cooked delicacies, the warm, fuzzy feeling of being in love encapsulates our heart. All we want to do is curl up on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket, and watch rom-com films with our loved ones. However, this fuzzy feeling has been replaced by constant fear and paranoia of getting infected by the virus which has not only led to physical distancing but also emotional distancing.
We have to make the best of the situation at hand; even if we cannot snuggle up to our heart’s content, we might just indulge in a rom-com binge session. Netflix, like Santa Claus, has been spreading happiness and love in these dark and dreary times by streaming some of the best romantic films that deserve to be watched and re-watched.
While Lara Jean’s intensely passionate letters might inspire you to write some of your own, The Notebook, which you have watched for the umpteenth time, might make you fill up buckets with tears. Tragic and beautiful, melancholy and sweet, these romantic films fill our hearts with love and warmth on the darkest and loneliest nights.
While we have qualms about Netflix not including some of our favourite films (sign a petition to make Netflix bring back Call Me By Your Name, and introduce Love Actually), we are eternally grateful for their amazing collection. We have hand-picked some of the best romantic films on this streaming platform just for you.
Dig into your tub of ice cream and watch the 10 most romantic films on Netflix that we have picked out just for you.
10 most romantic films on Netflix:
10. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Susan Johnson, 2018)
Based on a 2014 novel of the same name by Jenny Han, the film’s protagonist Lara Jean Covey is a high school junior and has been writing letters to her crushes which she keeps locked in a closet. One day, all the letters get sent out and Lara Jean gets caught in a complex love triangle between the school stud Peter Kavinsky and her older sister’s ex-boyfriend Josh. While she starts ‘fake dating’ Peter, they gradually fall in love which further complicates the situation.
Netflix has come up with some amazing rom-com films. While To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has a sequel comprising yet another love triangle, it cannot be compared to the original. Lara Jean as the awkward teenager, who falls in love frequently, is painfully relatable. Her chemistry with Peter catapults when they share the hot tub kiss (oops, a sexy spoiler) and the tension permeates through the screen. It is a fun ride which brings back high school memories and memories of all those boys/girls we have all loved before.
“If love is like a possession, maybe my letters are like my exorcisms.”
9. Begin Again (John Carney, 2013)
With an intimate and tender on-screen camaraderie, Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo weave a thread of subtle magic which adds a delightful flavour to this simple love story. Fate and heartbreaks coupled with a shared passion for music bring these two lost souls together; they are simply at the ‘right place’ at the ‘right time’. Keira’s doleful yet striking eyes and impeccable voice brings about a certain mellow cheeriness in the film, while Mark’s ruffled curls and droopy eyes, as well as the passion within his booze-fuelled heart, to restore his position in the film industry, redeem his character. The film revolves around the duo who plays Gretta, an aspiring, recently heartbroken songwriter and Dan, a drunkard record-label executive, who stumble upon each other in an NYC bar one night; their star-crossed fate and “disarming emotional intimacy” brings them together yet creates an unbridgeable and platonic distance that cannot be traversed by either of them.
Begin Again is an enthralling and surreal poetic piece that can melt the hardest of hearts. Carney, who directs this film right after his Irish musical Once, infuses certain similar elements in the film. His idea of love is indeed frustrating as he has a recurring habit of juxtaposing two extremely compatible and attractive individuals in an environment fuelled by platonic lust and poetic haplessness.
“Musicians for the most part are monosyllabic teenagers who really don’t have a whole lot to say.”
8. Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, 2010)
The film is observant of an arc of romance which witnesses the lives of Dean and Cindy, a young couple living a quiet life. On the outside, they have a normal and somewhat happy life, getting by. However, they are caught in a downward spiral which results in an extremely irritable and rocky relationship. All the passion they had at the start of the relationship starts to fizzle out with Dean’s lack of ambition and Cindy’s self-withdrawal, which leads to impending marital doom.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are stunning on-screen. Though it might be slightly disturbing to watch the intrinsic analysis of a rocky marriage, the unusual depth and emotional bandwidth of their characters make the film extremely special. The actors would improvise dialogues and film unscripted scenes based on what they thought would be essential to their respective roles. To add authenticity to the characters, Cianfrance would fan the tension. “One night he told Gosling to go into Williams’ bedroom and try to make love to her. Gosling, soundly rejected, ended up sleeping on the couch”. Intense and minutely crafted, the film sees the development of a relationship complicated by an unplanned pregnancy and the subsequent fracture.
“How do you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?”
7. Sleepless in Seattle (Nora Ephron, 1993)
Having lost his wife to cancer, Sam Baldwin moves to Seattle with his eight-year-old son Jonah to start afresh. Jonah persuades Sam to talk about his feelings on a radio talk show to which the latter begrudgingly agrees. Touched, Annie Reed, a reporter at Baltimore Sun, writes to Sam asking him to meet her on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
Although they rarely appear on-screen together, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s chemistry, as the lead characters, is palpable. These characters are not actively looking to fall in love; they deal with their issues privately yet find a common ground but not till the very end. The film is a warm and stirring classic with a touch of innocence, beginning with a tragedy but ending on a moving note. It is not just about two people falling in love but about Annie being a part of the family as Jonah’s “new mother”. Even 27 years later, this film continues to be one of the most wholesome romantic films to date.
“Destiny is something we’ve invented because we can’t stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental.”
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky, 2012)
Based on Chobsky’s 1999 novel, this film is a coming-of-age drama that features the events in the life of the teenager Charlie in form of epistles he writes to a nameless friend. It chronicles Charlie’s ongoing battle with clinical depression, coping with a friend’s suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder on being subjected to child abuse, and the first pangs of young love as he tries to navigate through high school, making new friends and experiencing life as a whole.
With its raw honesty and unthinkable emotional depth, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is nostalgic and tragic at the same time. It portrays the real trials and tribulations of teenagers as they try and grapple the unknown. As Charlie gets involved with a senior, Sam, he realises the meaning of ‘to love and to be loved’. It is realistic and aesthetically pleasing; an old-school story of love and loss, of melancholy and madness, and high-school and friendships.
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Charlie Kaufman, 2004)
Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski meet each other during a train ride at Montauk Station, fall in love and spend a good time before their wonderful time comes to an end. Instead of communicating with each other, Clementine erases her memories of the relationship. The film is about Joel’s erasure of memories while the viewers relieve the relationship in his head before complications arise forcing the star-struck lovers to meet again.
A wonderful take on fate and predestination, the film basks in the brilliance of its main leads, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. With seamless visuals and whimsical music, the film leaves an everlasting impression on the viewers’ mind. Winslet’s hair colour changes following her moods. A timeless masterpiece that revels in the poetic nature of love and sorrow, “the formidable Gondry/Kaufman/Carrey axis works marvel after marvel in expressing the bewildering beauty and existential horror of being trapped inside one’s addled mind, and in allegorising the self-preserving amnesia of a broken but hopeful heart.” A wonderful oscillation back and forth between moments of emotional destruction and bliss, the film, which reflects on self-growth as well, is one of it’s kind.
“Adults are, like, this mess of sadness and phobias.”
4. The Notebook (Nick Cassavetes, 2004)
Adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name, the film bears testament to Noah and Allie’s love story. In 1940s South Carolina, Noah Calhoun is a mill worker while Allie is a rich girl; despite their economic differences, they are haplessly in love much to the disdain of Allie’s parents. When Noah goes to serve in the Second World War, their story seemingly comes to an end and Allie is set to marry another man. However, with Noah’s return on the brink of Allie’s marriage, the passion is rekindled, and their love affair is not even close to being over.
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams were constantly at loggerheads with each other during filming; eventually, they made up and even ended up dating. The Notebook, too, is a story of fiery passion and love that triumphs all. McAdams, fresh out of playing Regina George in Mean Girls, is adorable with her emotional complication and dramatic depth. Gosling, too, is incredible on screen, exuding romance in his otherwise natural demeanour. Gosling recalls Cassavetes saying, “I want you to play this role because you’re not like the other young actors out there in Hollywood. You’re not handsome, you’re not cool, you’re just a regular guy who looks a bit nuts.” With an iconic kissing scene amidst a torrential downpour, The Notebook, even a decade and half of its release, continues to be a fan favourite tear-jerker.
“I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote to you every day for a year. It wasn’t over… it still isn’t over.”
3. Blue is the Warmest Colour (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)
The film focuses on the life of a French teenager, Adele, who discovers desire, love and non-conformity when an aspiring painter, Emma, walks into her life. From her high school years to adult life and career-building stage, the story revolves around the development of a beautiful lesbian relationship coupled with love and loss.
Raw, feverish and honest, the film not only deals with themes of homosexuality but also the difference of class. Emma’s middle-class family is concerned with art and music and is aware of their lesbian relationship while Adele’s conservative working-class family believe them to be friends and discuss social and realistic problems. It is interesting to perceive the film from the perspective of a male directorial gaze. A powerful story laden with emotions, sexuality and the concept of ‘having loved and lost’, the narrative is shouldered forward by brilliant cast members as well as the omnipresent motifs of colour and food.
“I miss you. I miss not touching each other. Not seeing each other, not breathing in each other. I want you. All the time. No one else.”
2. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
Adapted from Winston groom’s novel of the same name, Forrest Gump revolves around the life of the eponymous protagonist, a slow-witted yet lion-hearted man from Alabama, and his unconscious involvement in various historical events in the 20th century. His only desire is to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart Jenny.
Tom Hanks plays the slow but sweet Forrest who is in love with Jenny, who becomes a self-destructive individual. It is heartwarming to see Forrest pining for Jenny, heartbreaking to see her leave the day after they make love. It is a splendid balance between melancholy and comedy with sprinkles of love and “quiet truth”. Magical, it is almost out of a dream sequence. Delicate and intimate, the film sets in a warm, fuzzy mood via a heart-rendering love story “against an epic backdrop”.
“My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”
1. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
Damien Chazelle is no stranger to directing extraordinary films. With La La Land, he dances into the world of art and love, along with two other phenomenal actors Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Brilliant cinematography along with sublime dream sequences helps the film stand out from the rest. Stone and Gosling are fantastic on screen, their chemistry wins the hearts of the audience, who cannot help but grin sheepishly as the musical story progresses. Los Angeles is the city of stars and sparkle- it is nothing short of a fairy-tale. The exquisite beauty has a hint of sadness which is a result of Chazelle’s genius.
La La Land documents the love story of Sebastian Wilder, a jazz pianist striving to realise his dream of opening his jazz bar, and Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress. They are both trying to make a living for themselves in Los Angeles while acting out their respective roles in the musical. They are young and passionate, and very much in love but are uncertain of a future together. Life is not necessarily a fairy-tale with a happy ending and all actions have consequences. In his film which ends on a touching note, Chazelle also pays tribute to nearly all the predecessors; it is an ingenious exhibition of visuals and sound that is bound to make the audience laugh, cry, and fall in and out of love at the same time.
“It’s pretty strange that we keep running into each other.”