Hollywood’s Ten Best Contemporary Off-Beat Romantic Movies — II


Once (2006)


Story wise, “Once” has a simple story of boy-meets-girl, but their courtship, we witness, is physically chaste, musically passionate and deeply satisfying. Hollywood musicals were mostly ditched due to its implausibility of characters and suddenly inexplicably bursting into a song. However, this film seamlessly integrates songs into the fabric of understated romance. We never get to know the lead characters’ name in “Once” which reflects both the specifics of their own bittersweet romance and the universal nature of the love, which is twirled through their music.  Devoid of any formulaic nonsense, the movie’s magic lies only in experiencing it.


500 Days of Summer (2009)


Marc Webb’s post-modern, irresistible love story is about a greeting-card writer Tom (Gordon-Levitt), who falls in love with co-worker Summer (Zoey Deschanel). But, things doesn’t go according to the romantic dream of Tom, whose youthful illusions about love are shattered and prepares us  and him for an clear-eyed, grown-up romance. The third-person narrative, quirky animated title cards, and the playful Generation X story manages to transcend its influences enough to appear fresh. It brightly defies rom-com conventions, but never loses sight of hope and keeps us engaged with the ups and downs between Tom and Summer. This film has a quality that transcends cinematic romance and very likely to be referenced as a counterpoint to the next ten bad romantic comedies that come along.


Ruby Sparks (2012)


This romantic comedy, with a tinge of darkness, is about a writer, whose dream comes true. Paul Dano plays as a young, successful novelist, who is suffering from writer’s block. He starts to dream about his ideal girl and writes about her. To everyone’s surprise, he wakes up next morning to find her next to him in his bed. After confirming that she is a real person, he also finds out that her behavior can be controlled through his writings. Apart from bringing forth the love-hate relationship in romance, it also allegorically pokes at the fact how male fantasies have, for centuries, complicated women’s real lives through imposed and self-imposed expectations.  Few flaws aside, this is the much more satisfying than a cut-rate romantic story.


Silver Linings Playbook (2012)


David O. Russell’s unique and involving tale of societal outsiders is blessed with a mind-boggling performance of its lead pair – Bradley Cooper — romps on the edges of sanity & Jennifer Lawrence — a dark-haired, predatory young widow. Damaged souls reaching out from their darkness of depression is a tale that ought to be heart-breaking and overly sentimental, but Russell’s wicked, credible humor steers us look on the bright side of matters. The best romantic movies need well-developed characters, interesting storyline and strong chemistry between the lead pairs. This film covers all those bases — and rises above them too.


Her (2013)


Spike Jonze’s iphone era romance asks us how our relationships are changing, in accordance with the technology. It happens in the near-future where Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a soft-spoken man falls in love with his operating system named ‘Samantha.’ The key question in this tale is: where does love begin and end? It also nails our urge and the pitfalls of replacing everything (like human connection) with the modern technology. It’s mediation on love and relationship, so yeah, it moves very slowly. However, the glacial pace, bestows us to find a climatic place of catharsis. Free from cynicism, this love story doesn’t try to be a grand social satire. It rather alludes that love can make digital beings as touchingly confusing as the humans.

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