Three great romance movies to watch for Valentine’s Day

I woke up the other morning and looked out my window with a smile. The sun was shining, the beautiful birds were chirping, love was in the air!

 I’m lying of course; the sun doesn’t exist in Waterloo during the winter and there are no beautiful chirping birds, only infuriating honking geese.

Nevertheless, Valentine’s day is right around the corner and it is a perfect time to cuddle up to that special someone and flip on a romantic film. There are some we all know: When Harry Met Sally (1989), The Fault in Our Stars (2014) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) to name a few. I however believe that some of the best romantic films are rarely talked about. Here are three of them that you may not have heard of but are worth checking out this valentine’s day.

Buffalo ‘66 (1998)

Directed by Vincent Gallo

Starring: Vincent Gallo, Cristina Ricci

Buffalo ‘66 may be one of the greatest independent films ever made with one of the most off-beat love stories ever put to film. The film is about a recently released convict named Billy (Vincent Gallo) whose parents are unaware that he’s been incarcerated for several years. He also lied to his parents about having a girlfriend and so he decides to kidnap a woman (Cristina Ricci) to present to his parents. Much can be debated about this film and Gallo’s later work The Brown Bunny (2003) but one thing for certain is that both films feel uniquely human. This attitude is especially true of Billy, a character who truly encapsulates what it is to be lost and lonely. He is irrational, often acts stupidly, and can’t seem to stop sabotaging himself. The kidnapped woman named Layla is a godsend. She is someone who looks at Billy and, despite his many flaws, sees something special in him. It is a miraculous film, able to turn a ridiculous story into something not just believable, but identifiable. 

Moonstruck (1987)

Directed by Norman Jewison

Starring: Cher, Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello

What I admire most about Moonstruck is how it’s always willing to wander off the beaten path that other romantic comedies paved before it. It’s not afraid to focus on auxiliary characters and their own relationships.  It’s not afraid to give the setting a personality. Moonstruck takes Italian-American culture and enlarges its tropes almost to the point of parody. The film is about an engaged woman falling for her fiance’s eccentric brother. The acting really stands out in this film. Cher while perhaps a musician before being an actor excels in the role of Loretta even outshining the always entertaining Nicolas Cage. While Cher delivers the better overall performance, Cage pulls off the more memorable one. He plays the over-the-top dramatic Ronny who is falling madly in love with Loretta. It’s one of the rare films with an ensemble of fully developed characters and unlike some romantic comedies, it’s legitimately funny. I also enjoy the choice to focus on the relationships of people who are aging. It adds a healthy amount of levity and cynicism to a genre that often lacks such aspects.

Before Sunrise (1995)

Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring: Ethan Hawk, Julie Delpy

People are difficult and everyone knows why. If you don’t then please stop being difficult. Even with this reality sometimes people can create something wonderful. Not with tools or with revolutionary ideas but just with how they interact with one another. This is the attitude I feel towards Before Sunrise, it’s a film that just makes me smile. Beautiful in its simplicity; we watch as two strangers meet on a train in Vienna. One is an American student named Jesse (Ethan Hawk) and a French citizen Celine (Julie Delpy). The film takes place throughout the night as the two decide in the spur of the moment to explore Vienna together. The majesty of the city brings out the elegance in their unexpected relationship. With both having to return to their normal lives the next day it seems like all they’ll have is this brief night together. It mirrors how time flies in our own lives, how relationships come too fast and go too soon, it elicits that internal feeling that we all have about wishing that we just had a little bit more time before the sunrises in our lives.

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