Foreign front: Highly recommended by Cupid …

Updated February 08, 2015


Legend has it that Saint Valentine became famous (or infamous) amongst the Romans for performing weddings for those outlawed from getting married, and was later executed for his actions. Perhaps the Romans were simply being cruel, or perhaps their intentions were misunderstood and they were simply trying to keep people free of the shackles of married life.

Who knows!

Surely Saint Valentine wasn’t aware that after his martyrdom, February 14th would forever be named after him. And that February 14th would become a day where couples would be involved in an expensive day of commercialism which would culminate in a passionate night of…DVD watching.

Statistics we just made up for the sake of this article suggest that the biggest point of contention amongst couples on Valentine’s Day is what romantic comedy to watch as they cuddle.

To defuse the tension, we have some suggestions of rom-coms to choose from which are flavoured with both sweetness and cheese, yet are grounded enough for both partners.

Images on Sunday shares a Valentine’s Day Hollywood movie list, from the sickly sweet to the spine-chilling!

Meanwhile, for individuals whose legs are unchained, who are nauseated by every romantic update on Facebook, who see red when they see red, we also have some balm for your cynical hearts.

Our first suggestion is also the most recent. The Fault in Our Stars may have been based on a book for young adults, but it has become a favourite for just about everyone. This tear jerker tells the tale of two cancer survivors who fall in love and teach us some vital lessons about life. Needless to say, viewers of this excellent romantic comedy should have handkerchiefs handy.

A fine romantic film that will hit South Asians closer to home is Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox. The film stars Irrfan Khan (Saajan Fernandes) as a lonely man who forms a friendship with an equally lonely housewife where the duo is brought together by a lunchbox. Another romantic film of South Asian flavor we recommend is The Hundred-Foot Journey. It’s a wonderful film starring Om Puri, Hellen Mirren, and features the delicious cuisines of India and France.

For viewers interested in films with Oscar pedigree, Silver Linings Playbook is a nutty film with a strong cast including Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, who are excellent in their roles as dysfunctional characters with some quirky psychological issues. This David O. Russell film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and won one for Jennifer Lawrence as Best Actress.

A romantic comedy which won the Oscar for Best Picture is Shakespeare in Love. Taking home seven Academy Awards, Shakespeare in Love is a wonderfully acted film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes (William Shakespeare) that tells the fictional story of how a real life romance inspired the world’s greatest playwright’s greatest work. Of course, the film cleverly ignores the fact that Shakespeare wasn’t inspired by a young fiery Ms Paltrow, but the earlier work of an Italian writer.

Viewers interested in a less whimsical rom-com should watch Knocked Up starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, and Paul Rudd. Knocked Up is a hilarious drama that tells the story of a highly unlikely couple brought together by an accidental pregnancy. It shows us that the weight of responsibility can sometimes force human beings to try and better themselves. Another unlikely romantic comedy in our list is The 40-Year-Old Virgin, where Steve Carell (Andy Stitzer) plays a frustrated employee at an electronics store, who has been held back in life due to his social awkwardness. The 40-Year-Old Virgin is absolutely hilarious, but also absolutely filthy, featuring language fit for a sailor. Yet underneath the expletives, the film carries a surprisingly soft and touching core.

Filmgoers who suffer from a gag reflex at the mention of Valentine’s Day would be well served by watching Gone Girl, which begins as an engrossing mystery, yet slowly twists into something else. This Ben Affleck vehicle suffers from some plot holes, but has enough darkness to satisfy any cynic. A lesser known film with a wicked twist on romance is Woody Allen’s tennis film, Match Point, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. Without giving too much away, the unexpected turn in the film will hit you like a powerful serve from Pete Sampras, and in the process provide you with a Valentine’s Day to remember.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, February 8th, 2015

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