True Romance—You wait for someone outside his/her window for 365 days until this person falls for you. Cinema Paradiso is probably the most moving, romantic and cinematic movie in my book. And in some way—waiting—is very Chinese except that it’s set in a small town in Italy.
Henry and June
Literary Romance—Anaïs Nin falls for both Henry Miller and his wife June Miller in the slums of Paris. The entangled and tortured romance and sex lives between writers and artists could not have been portrayed more beautifully in cinema than in Philip Kaufman’s Henry and June.
Plain Jane to the Rescue
Comical Romance—John Woo’s Plain Jane always has a special place in my heart as I saw the movie as a kid with my parents in the cinema. I laugh every time I re-watch the awkward romance between Plain Jane (played by the brilliant Josephine Siao) and the Hong Kong everyman Ricky Hui. So much of romance is about awkwardness, and this movie captures it perfectly in the 80s era of colonial Hong Kong.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Poetic Romance—Every time I remember the ending of The Unbearable Lightness of Being pulls me into a poetic reverie as Lena Olin’s Sabina receives a letter in the mail about the death of her ex-lover (Daniel Day Lewis) with his wife (Juliette Binoche). The movie ends with the last moment the couple spends together before the off-screen car accident in the rain. Death hasn’t been portrayed more romantic and poetic in cinema.
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Lesbian Romance—I love the spicy relationship between Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tramell and Roxy. This lesbian romance totally sizzles until Roxy tries to run Michael Douglas’ character over with a black Porsche.
Postmodern Romance—The ending of Fight Club is a wet dream for a postmodernist like me. The postmodern romance of Fight Club captures the vision of Generation X as we drift in and out of AA meetings carrying our fractured identities in search of our other halves.
Horror Romance—As a teenager, I was in tears watching the end of The Fly when the fly creature put the gun to his head and begged his ex-lover Geena Davis to blow his brains out. It was such an intense and horrific moment and ending created by the perversely brilliant Mr. David Cronenberg.
Quirky Romance—If I had gone to an American high school, I’d totally be in love with someone like Christian Slater’s J.D. in Heathers. Slater and Wynona Ryder created the perfectly quirky romantic high school couple on screen.
(Check out Offender Philip’s previous choices for the best “obscure” romantic films here)