A few movies to make your -- and your Valentine's -- heart sing.
Well, sure, you could just watch “When Harry Met Sally . . . ” again. But if you’re looking for something fresh for Valentine’s Day, consider a lesser-known recommendation from this list — each of which, in recent years, made my heart sing.
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“Beyond the Lights” (2014) Irresistible romantic drama, with Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a British R&B star and Nate Parker as the L.A. cop with whom she falls in love. There’s never a false moment between these two; it’s a sweet, straightforward, and beautifully acted love story.
“Bright Star” (2009) Just the thing for literary types: the tale of the poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his beloved Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), who fell in love in 1818. Director Jane Campion creates a quiet but intoxicating mix of swirling passions, poetry, tragedy, and dusty candlelight.
“Enough Said” (2013). Nicole Holofcener’s charming L.A. rom-com features that rarity: middle-aged people falling, happily and wittily, in love. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (why doesn’t she make more movies?) is radiantly funny; James Gandolfini (in what, sadly, is among his last roles) is a twinkling-eyed sweetheart.
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“I Am Love” (2010). This operatic Italian melodrama (nobody sings, but the emotions are so heightened you feel that they might) stars a moonlight-pale Tilda Swinton as a wealthy wife who falls, hard, for a handsome young chef. Wildly colorful; beautifully shot; wonderfully dramatic. And yes, Swinton speaks Italian. (Is there anything she can’t do?)
“In the Mood for Love” (2001). I last saw this movie, directed by Wong Kar-wai, ages ago, but I’ve never forgotten the aching spell of yearning that it casts. It’s an intoxicatingly beautiful, film noir-ish drama set in 1960s Hong Kong, with Maggie Cheung and Tony Chiu Wai Leung as neighbors who desperately yearn to be lovers.
“Love Is Strange” (2014). Here, we don’t see a couple fall in love, but watch them simply in love. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina perfectly inhabit a longtime couple, who’ve been together long enough to have trouble imagining life without the other — until real estate woes intervene.
“Ruby Sparks” (2012). I’m always recommending this smart, magical little rom-com to anyone who’ll listen: it’s an enchantingly original tale of a lonely young novelist (Paul Dano) who creates the ideal girlfriend (Zoe Kazan) on the page — only to have her pop up in the flesh. Is she real? Does it matter?
Happy Valentine’s Day!