By Claire Farrow
Love is complicated, but it always works out in the end: Whether that is true or not, I’m not one to argue. I think we all need some reassurance some days, which is probably why we seem to love romantic comedies so much. Watching people other than ourselves bungle up a bit in life and love is satisfying. What’s more, watching quirky characters on screen can make us feel a bit better about our own small oddities.
Bedrooms and Hallways (1998)
What is it: While quite dated in the use of stereotypes, Bedrooms and Hallways (1998) is a rather refreshing guilty pleasure rom-com. Leo (Kevin McKidd) is an openly gay furniture builder who lives with his two flatmates, Darren (Tom Hollander) and Angie (Julie Graham). Darren is in a tempestuous relationship with real estate agent Jeremy (Hugo Weaving), and Angie is a flight attendant. Leo is invited by his co-worker Adam (Christopher Fulford) to join his men’s group, and it is there that Leo meets the handsome Brendan (James Purefoy). After Leo confesses that he finds Brendan attractive, things become awkward, and that’s when the hilarity starts. Do we know much about these characters’ lives? Not particularly, other than the situations they are thrown in, but, honestly, who cares? Certainly not an Oscar-worthy film, but it gives some good laughs.
Why you should be watching: What do Grey’s Anatomy (2005-Present), The Matrix (1999), Lord of the Rings (2001), Pirates of the Caribbean (2003), The Following (2013-2015), Pride and Prejudice (1995), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and The Phantom of the Opera (2004) have in common? The cast of Bedrooms and Hallways. With the number of recognizable actors within this decidedly B-list film, it would appear that the UK is trying to convince us that that they only have about 50 actors in their whole country. I digress. While the film isn’t perfect– there was a line mildly bashing bisexuals– the fact that this film does explore fluid sexuality is ahead of its time, which is still a subject that is largely unrepresented in film and media.
What is it: You would think that when death is a part of a romance film, it would follow the vein of Romeo & Juliet. However, Beginners (2011) is as much a romance story as it is a love and reconnection story between father and son. Soon after his wife dies, Hal (Christopher Plummer) lands two bombshells on his son Oliver (Ewan McGregor)– he has terminal cancer and he is gay. From there, the film follows their developing relationships with themselves, each other, and their burgeoning romantic relationships.
Why you should be watching: Aside from being the film that finally gave Christopher Plummer his Oscar, Beginners is a quiet film that packs a powerful punch. The love in this film is multifaceted– storge (Greek word to describe the love between parents and children) and eros (Greek for passionate, sexual love)– which adds an uncommon layer to a romance film. Because, while Valentine’s Day is mostly centered around love between partners, it is also an opportunity to be thankful for the others in your life who love you: your family and friends.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)
What it is: Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is a recently unemployed, down-on-her-luck governess who gets drawn into the fast-paced life of potential rising star Delysia LaFosse (Amy Adams). In the 24 hours the two spend together, Miss Pettigrew in thrown into the whirlwind world of pre-WWII high London society and ends up making her own splash as she helps Delysia navigate through her love life and career.
Why you should be watching: [Lee Pace, duh. He’s obviously the answer to everything and is the only reasoning for watching anything. He’s totally lowkey my Valentine. Let’s be real here.] Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day (2008) is a charming, quirky period rom-com that makes you feel good on the inside and say “aww.” Also, several familiar faces in this film– Lee Pace, Christina Cole, Shirley Henderson, Ciaran Hinds, and Mark Strong — bring their best performances to this fluffy confection of indulgence.
Claire Farrow can be reached at email@example.com.