Ah, Valentine’s Day. Love it, hate it or deride it as a big consumerist ploy to sell out ‘romance’ and ‘love’, it’s here again. This weekend, in fact. Got plans?
If you’re tuckered out from Chinese New Year celebrations and just want a night in to binge-watch romantic films on Netflix, here’s a list of ten to choose from. We won’t judge.
If you’re in the mood for an Austenian love story…
Pride & Prejudice
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’ You must have had this line memorised since high school English class by now; I won’t bore you with the synopsis of what — in my opinion — is the gold standard of book adaptations. Bar none. Who doesn’t love an impassioned speech, misted in downpour, between two not-yet lovers practically spitting at each other? When Mr. Darcy — backlit by sunrise, trudging through a foggy British countryside — delivers lines like “You have bewitched me, body and soul”? They don’t make them like this anymore.
Watch ‘Pride & Prejudice’ here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood for an old favourite…
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Another book adaption, another Mr. Darcy. Rewatching ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ feels like coming home after an impossible day and sinking into a perfectly warm bubble bath. It’s friendly; it’s familiar; it’s chicken soup. Titular character Bridget (Renée Zellweger) finds herself in her thirties — single, alone and a total lush. Cue romantic triangle between herself, divorce attorney Mark Darcy and her boss Daniel Cleaver, played by Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, respectively. There is no grand romantic gesture as true and as human as Bridget, running — half-naked in rush — after Mark in snowy London. Truly.
Watch ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood for bittersweet endings…
In short: Marriage Story — directed by Noah Baumbach; starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in Oscar-nominated performances — is about a divorce. A relationship and the ending of it. The compromises that weren’t made but could have been. So, love. The good, the bad and the ugly. The very ugly. Nasty, even.
Watch ‘Marriage Story’ here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood for a laugh…
Always Be My Maybe
‘Always Be My Maybe’ stars Ali Wong and Randall Park as they play adult versions of childhood pals Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim; the former now a celebrity chef, the latter, still holding on to a flame from years past. It’s a light, funny, easy-watching film with a ton of heart. Also: those hilarious Keanu Reeves scenes — who was apparently filming ‘John Wick 3’ consecutively during the production of this film — make this an essential watch.
Watch ‘Always Be My Maybe’ here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood for a wholesome affair…
The Half of It
“Love is messy and horrible and selfish and bold. It’s not finding your perfect half. It’s the trying and the reaching and failing. For the chance at a great one.”— Ellie Chu, The Half of It (2020)
I’ll be the first one to say it: teen romances are, generally, not my cup of tea. There’s probably some psychology about ageing out of that age bracket and finding media produced about ‘romance’ in these formative years overwrought, overdramatic and overwritten. ‘The Half of It’ proved me wrong.
‘The Half of It’ follows straight-A student Ellie as she’s hired by sweet-but-inarticulate Paul to write love letters in hopes of winning over a popular girl at school. It’s about love — the romantic kind, yes — but it’s also mostly about friendship. About camaraderie. It’s coming-of-age. It’s sweet. It’s queer, too.
Watch ‘The Half of It‘ here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood for something new…
Malcom & Marie
A new-comer to Netflix, we’ve also mentioned ‘Malcolm & Marie’ in our round-up of new releases for February 2021. John David Washington and Zendaya star as lovers in dialogue one night after Malcolm’s (Washington) film premiere. A retrospective on the troughs and peaks of a relationship, in similar vein to the he-said-she-said style of ‘Marriage Story’.
Watch ‘Malcolm & Marie’ here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood to have the time of your life…
From “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” to Patrick Swayze’s superior dance moves to Jennifer Grey’s beautiful curls to the calm that comes over you when the first strums of ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ starts playing, ‘Dirty Dancing’ continues to be a huge part of our pop-culture lexicon.
We will not take responsibility for any injuries incurred while attempting that lift.
Watch ‘Dirty Dancing’ here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood for a cry…
The film that launched a million parodies, at the ire of every pottery instructor. Another Patrick Swayze staple, ‘Ghost’ tells the story of a mugged-and-murdered young man (Swayze) who lingers on as a ghost to watch over his grieving lover (Demi Moore) while solving his own murder. Whoopi Goldberg plays the mediating psychic in a legendary performance that won her her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Bring tissues; this one’s a weepie.
Watch ‘Ghost’ here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood to get in the mood…
It’s a problematic premise from the start. A Sicilian Mafia boss kidnaps a plucky young woman and gives her 365 days to succumb to Stockholm Syndrome and fall in love with him. Um, alright. Some have called it a rip-off of another man-in-high-powered-position preys on young women film: ‘50 Shades of Grey’. Others have called it irresponsible. ‘Screamingly Bad’. A glorification of sexual violence. Despite 365 Days’ 0% score on film-review site Rotten Tomatoes — that’s a feat in and of itself — it remains one of the most-streamed films on Netflix. So, you’ve been warned. Choose a safe word, please.
Watch (or don’t watch) ‘365 Days’ here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood for being really literal…
The laundry-list of big names in this production’s ensemble cast — see: Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Queen Latifah… this doesn’t even scratch the surface — makes it quite fun. Make a drinking game out of it. Written in the style of films like ‘New York, I Love You’ where characters meander from plot to sub-plot through each other’s lives, ‘Valentine’s Day’ tells tales of, well, love. Romantic love and childhood crushes and Taylor Swift making questionable acting choices. It’s a fun time.
Watch ‘Valentine’s Day’ here on Netflix.