Diving straight to the point to save some time and energy.
1) Stage Beauty
I love movies that are set in a different era. Watching them is like time travel and the probable reason why I hated Marie Antoinette (the one with Kirsten Dunst). Anyway, Stage Beauty is a well-acted and nicely scripted movie. It stars Billy Crudup and Claire Danes in central roles. Set in the 17th century, the movie is about theatre politics. Women, in that era, were not allowed to perform on stage. Hence, men took over and played the female characters. One person who wants to change it all is Maria (Danes), who has a passion for performing on stage. In the process, she manages to anger Ned (Crudup) who is famed as the stage beauty of the day.
What I love about the movie?
Apart from the script, it’s the crackling chemistry between the leads that makes me go all gooey inside. It’s therefore, not a surprise that Crudup and Danes actually started dating after the movie was completed.
A special mention of the scene where their chemistry is sizzling enough to set the temperatures soaring.
2) Inventing the Abbotts
Another movie set in a different era. Another movie starring Billy Crudup. Another movie about love. You get the picture, don’t you?
It’s the 1950s, and two brothers Jacey (Billy Crudup) and Doug (Joaquin Phoenix) are in love. The Abbott sisters are pretty and wealthy and out of both Jacey’s and Doug’s league. But they do fall in love and complications arise.
What I love about the film?
While it’s essentially a movie about love, Inventing the Abbotts is not just about matters of the heart. It’s a brilliant commentary on the social mores of that period when love was dictated by social standards. It’s also about control and freedom. Take the three sisters, for instance. One’s a rebel, bent on bringing shame to the family; the other one is too meek to give up her own life; the third one is the more practical and sensible of the lot.
And I like movies about misfits. Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler are cutely weird and I’m sure you too would root for them.
3) Tristan + Isolde
I’m usually not a big fan of epic romances. They are always so melodramatic and predictable, but in this case I made an exception because I adore James Franco.
So the story isn’t path breaking. The handsome warrior meets and falls in love with the princess, who returns his affections (who wouldn’t?). But when it comes to choosing between love and honor, there is heartbreak, pain and tears. The two, do get back together and what follows is more heartbreak, pain and tears. It was supposed to be a tragic love story, but I can’t claim I was moved to tears.
What I love about this film?
Despite what I said, there’s still so much to like this movie. The music is well suited to the mood and Rufus Sewell is great as always. Plus, there’s James Franco. I only wished they had found someone who had a better chemistry with him.
P.S. Henry Cavill stars in a small role too.
4) Ladies in Lavender
There’s something really special about a movie that attempts to tell a story in a really simple manner. In the process, it becomes a far more poignant tale than the pretentious movies that shamelessly manipulate our emotions. Ladies in Lavender is a master class in simple storytelling.
Two aging sisters find a young man washed ashore near their house. Over the next few days, they nurse him back to health and discover he’s a violinist from Poland. The younger sister eventually falls in love with him. But by the time the movie ends, it’s back to normal routine life for the two spinsters.
What I love about the film?
A movie that stars Maggie Smith and Judi Dench has brilliance written all over it. Every dialogue, every movement and every gesture seems so natural that you’d forget you’ve been watching a movie. Big props to Daniel Bruhl, too, for holding it against these two powerful actresses. His vulnerability, innocence and naturalness prove why he’s such a wonderful actor.
Oh! And I did shed a few tears by the time the credits rolled in.
5) Room with a View
Maggie Smith and Judy Dench, again. How I love these two!
Based on a book written by E.M. Forster, Room with a View is about a young woman trapped in a world of proprietary and archaic customs. Imagine this. If an unmarried couple is found kissing, they would have to be married! Where’s Henry Cavill when you need him?
Anyway, the young girl is played to perfection by Helena Bonham Carter. I couldn’t believe how young she was, before all the eccentricity started. The man she’s in love with is played by Julian Sands. They have a nice chemistry and the supporting cast is good too.
What I love about this movie?
As much as I cringe to admit, my best moment from the movie was this scene. Love how dreamy the guy sounds and how perfect the moment is. After all the struggles and turbulences, Lucy and George are finally in the world of their own. A world where they can look outside, without feeling the pressures of society tying them down. It could have been very mushy, but turned out differently.
So here you go. 5 underrated romantic movies that you should catch, if you haven’t already.