LOUISE WILSON shares her rom-com film recommendations, perfect for this year’s Valentine’s Day in lockdown.
As February 14th draws near, the streaming services start pushing their most romantic movies to the top of their homepages. However, the genre is often filled with toxic relationships, double standards, and female characters written solely from the perspective of the ‘male gaze’. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t write the genre off entirely. Many rom-coms are genuinely funny and deserve much more credit than we give them. Here’s a list of some of the best rom-coms you should watch this Valentine’s Day.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
The first on this list of films has been adapted from the classic literature of William Shakespeare. 10 Things I Hate About You is a retelling of the comedy, Taming of the Shrew. The story starts by following new student, Cameron as he desperately attempts to date Bianca. However, Bianca’s strict father leads Cameron to try and get ‘bad boy’ Patrick to date Bianca’s sister, Kat; all for his own benefit.
This film is hilarious; every character bounces off each other effortlessly, and Heath Ledger’s character, Patrick singing Franki Valli whilst running away from security guards might be the most charming thing I’ve ever seen. A lot of female leads in rom-coms fall under the ‘I’m not like other girls’ trope, and whilst Kat definitely seems to be portrayed that way for a while, she doesn’t change herself for Patrick. The coming-of-age theme in the film is significant when Kat’s relationship with her stereotypically more feminine sister Bianca, blossoms as they become better people without inherently changing who they are for their love interests.
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Netflix have ushered in a sort of rom-com renaissance period in the last couple of years, and although many have missed the mark, Always Be My Maybe is an absolute gem. Ali Wong and Randall Park wrote, produced, and starred in this film and it does not disappoint. Sasha and Marcus are childhood friends who realise their feelings for each other just before they lose contact, and the rest of the story follows their reconnection. The film is great because it subverts the trope of ‘successful woman drops her career to be with a man’ and provides some diversity in a genre that has always been lacking. It also features a somewhat ridiculously catchy soundtrack, a lot of which is sung by Park himself. If there’s one film you haven’t seen on this list, it is most likely this one, so I urge you give it a watch. It’s fantastic!
Based on Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless is what I consider to be a modern-day masterpiece. I watch this film at least 3 times a year and I never get sick of it. The story follows popular teen Cher (Alicia Silverstone) as she plays matchmaker with her teachers and friends, until she realises, she wants a relationship of her own.
I should probably address the elephant in the room and recognise that the main couple are ex-stepsiblings. It’s a choice that could have been changed and it feels a bit weird, but honestly, they make it pretty clear that Cher and Josh (Paul Rudd) do not see themselves as brother and sister.
Despite this, the cast is perfect, the jokes never flop and the costume design is *chef’s kiss*. The film also has a lot to say in terms of gender. Cher’s femininity and girliness doesn’t suffer as she grows; she’s intelligent and she doesn’t let anyone reduce her down to her appearance. It also deals with issues surrounding virginity in a surprisingly mature way, especially when the subject is so often mishandled in teen movies. On top of all of that, despite it being played as a bit of a joke, Cher’s debate speech on immigration makes some remarkably valid points and gained a lot of traction during the early days of a certain President’s time in office. If you want to watch a light-hearted rom-com this Valentine’s Day, Clueless will have you engrossed from the very second it starts.
Long Shot (2019)
Long Shot is a story about a presidential nominee Charlotte (Charlize Theron) alongside her stoner, and slacker of a speech writer, Fred (played by, in a shock to nobody, Seth Rogen). Listen, I know that Seth Rogen has made a lot of bad films. He quite often plays the same character, but in this film, I do not care. Their chemistry is ridiculous and there are moments that are genuinely heart-warming (I was as surprised as you are, I’m sorry Seth Rogen).
This film takes a similar route to Always Be My Maybe in that the woman never thinks about giving up her career for the relationship, but it never really feels like tokenism.
This film was made in the peak of the Trump administration and there are definitely references to that, but it’s also nice to see the depiction of a female president. (Sidenote - you should avoid watching this with your parents). You have been warned.
Someone Great (2019)
Admittedly, this one is a bit of an anti rom-com, but it is still a great watch. Another of Netflix’s renaissance period, Someone Great starts with Jenny (Gina Rodriquez) being dumped by her long-term boyfriend Nate (LaKeith Stanfield). The story follows Jenny and her two best friends (Brittany Snow & DeWanda Wise) on their last night together before she moves away to a new job. Any typical rom-com would have Jenny find someone new, or rekindle her relationship with Nate, but this film does neither. Instead, it focuses on Jenny’s grieving process and how she gets through her heartbreak. Her friends also get their own romantic subplots and aren’t merely devices in Jenny’s heartbreak story. It’s honest, funny, and heart-wrenching at times; the perfect choice if you’re in the mood for an anti-Valentines film.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Written by Louise Wilson