Category Archives: Romance

Before Midnight (Drama-Romance)

beforemid“No matter how perfect the match, all human bonds universally endure hardships”

Jesse has spent the summer in Europe with his son from his previous marriage, along with his new companion in life Celine and their twin daughters. After dropping his son off at the airport, Jesse and his new family begin a drive to a small cottage nestled within the Greek countryside to meet up with friends. Once they arrive they engage in conversation, have dinner and drinks, and then the friends offer to watch their kids for a romantic weekend in the town nearby.   This cherished time alone is long past due and brings an initial excitement, but also hesitation with the inner burdens they are currently dealing with.

As expected, Richard Linklater, shrouds the audience with a barrage of philosophical ideas on life, romance, and relationships using several mediums. Being the third installment of the Before Sunrise Trilogy, the film takes a more matured step in advancing the renowned love story. Not only has the honeymoon phase worn off, but also new concerns involving Jesse missing much of his sons prime years in high school. As common with many relationships, this was taken personally by Celine and a conflict develops bringing out every problem, mistake, or personality trait they dislike of each other.

The absorbing aspects of the long argument scene were not the subject matter themselves, but the delivery and methodical counter blows used to emotionally deaf ears. The intricate way of dismissing one another’s point and how the overwhelmed individuals need push the composed one over the edge of rational thinking was gripping. This honest portrayal of married couples quarrel disclosed a side to relationships that is predominantly kept behind closed doors, yet the audience is provided with a beautifully passionate expression of human nature as a fly on the wall.

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Before Sunset (Drama-Romance)

beforesun“Time may pass in an instant, but a genuine emotional interest takes longer to fade away”

Jessie (Ethan Hawke) travels around Europe on a book tour to speak on behalf of his best selling “fictional”-romance novel. His last stop is France, the place were the key counterpart in his story lived.  After his completion of the conference, he sees a woman he recognized immediately waiting in the back of the bookstore; the muse from his popular book. With a few hours to kill before his flight, they walk around town to catch up on the years lost, while also eluding to the hypotheticals. A spark becomes undeniably rekindled, and they become blinded from the reality and repercussions this happenstance could cause.

A sequel to a popular film released almost a decade prior, Richard Linklater brings a continuation of a romance left on an ambiguous note. While unraveling the circumstances that kept them apart for so many years, they also begin to discover that the time has matured them and brought a series of reformed ideals. Nevertheless, they embrace the harmony their conversations carry, which have endured through the period that is now only a vague reminiscence.

This film remarkably demonstrates the impact experiences in life have in the determination and development of self.  As a follow-up to their first encounter, aside from their obvious desire for one another unaffected, the audience is able to see how specific moments have shaped their now ripened personalities and how they currently interact together. This in turn brings a consideration that if they were to have joined together years prior as planned, what would have become of the initial relationship with so much personal growth in transition. This is left with the audience to decide, as a hopeless romantic siding with the power of cosmic fate or the logical-minded favoring incalculable odds of this reuniting having perfect timing for their longevity.

Before Sunrise (Drama-Romance)

Before Sun“A chance encounter producing an impartial outlook on life and love”

A young man and woman meet on a train and begin to have a very natural conversation. When it is time to go their separate ways, they mutually decide that a connection between them is too strong and it would be foolish to not continue their engagement. Through the remainder of the day and into the night, their relationship becomes stronger as they delve deep into each other’s personal lives and philosophies.

Richard Linklater produces a convincing modern-day fairytale, which is developed solely through captivating dialogue. Aside from a few awkward moments and verbage one will inevitably indulge in when falling for someone, the predictable love story formula was left on the passenger car in act one. In place of the generic romance, is spontaneously spellbinding rhetoric tied into logical debates between two individuals who are discovering themselves through one another. Caught in an immersion of intellectual and sometimes playful conversations, a bond is persuasively formed beyond any superficial physical attraction.

With pivotal importance to the success of the overall pace and tone of the screenplay, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy enthrall the audience with a sincere chemistry. An intriguing emphasis on their personal immaturities was gradually uncovered, showing how disadvantages could disrupt the passion if their relationship was to grow into something permanent. Within these vulnerabilities a secondary nuance was introduced with their departure, bringing forth a curiosity of how their relationship would evolve if they were to be reunited in the future.

Very Ordinary Couple (Foreign-Romance-Comedy)

index“No matter how much you want a romance to work, statistically after the first breakup your chances of the relationships longevity is limited”

After an initial breakup Lee Dong-hee and Jang Young are on the rebound track, but like most, are still unintentionally thinking of one another.  To make matter worse, they are also co-workers and have had to keep their relationship a secret for some time.  They try to move on, but after a few thoughtless mistakes and irrevocable decisions, they fall back into each other’s warm embrace and try to give their relationship another shot.  This time they are consciously avoiding the issues that pushed them apart in the first place, but begin to realize this may not be enough.

This Korean rom-com has all of the universal elements for this genre; including awkward comedic situations, forgiveness without bounds, and of course gobs of irrational behavior customarily triggered by jealousy.  One component that does set this apart from the company it keeps, is the authentic dialogue and relational elements that conjure empathy from those who have been there before.

This 20-somthing modern take on relationships spellbinds the viewers through both a relate-able storyline and two loveable characters.  The on screen chemistry apparent between these two, along with both characters personal convictions and flaws, formed an honest screenplay that was an engaging and uplifting even to the bitter end.  These two negatively charged magnets did everything positive to come together, but sadly an inert invisible force relentlessly kept a field of polarity between them.

 

Mr. Nobody – (Drama-Romance-Sci-fi)

nobody“If you don’t make a choice then the possibilities are endless, well, actually that is choosing and realistically you’re left with nothing”

Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) is a 117 year old man and the last mortal on the planet.  This makes him the only remaining window to the past, and before he perishes it is vital for his insights to be documented.  So through a hypnotist and journalist, the recollections of his life are recorded for the generations to come.  The only problem is, he is either extremely senile or he is intentionally contriving a story of multiple imaginable lives with different partners to express his philosophies on life.

This daring futuristic rom-dram uses an oversimplified version of string theory and relates it to the choices we make (or don’t make).  An even more impressive feat was encapsulating this theory into the realms of romance and companionship, and vaguely alluding to the concept of multidimensional love.  Entranced in the past lives he may or may not have lived, the audience scrambles to decipher the best choices he could make and empathizes with the poor ones.  If this sounds familiar to another film you may have seen, you too will be frustrated with the lack of originality and almost identical events that take place.

Another fault was that initially the pacing of the film was a delight for about an hour or so, but this momentum slowed drastically when the different realities were continuously regurgitated even after the audience comprehended the relational dynamic and possible mates qualities.  This lead to a drawn out second act that overdeveloped the characters, which deteriorated the initial appeal of the relationships. The irony is that the director is known for short films, and with a more structured screenplay and competent editing work he could have had a recommendable film at half the length.

On a final note, the ending portrayed Nemo as completely senseless and contradictory to his creed once he made a definitive love selection before his last breath.  This could have been seen as either random or a weak attempt at a metaphor that a clear choice was the true reason for his passing.

 

Upstream Color (Drama-Sci-Fi)

UC“Self awareness is exalted in its purest form after trauma obliterates ones ego, allowing enlightenment to emerge from the ashes”

A young woman is drugged and then hypnotized over the course of several days.  She is persuaded into giving away her life savings to a thief, inevitably loses her job for her absence, and is left with nothing more than a vague recollection of what happened, as tangible as a dream.  After having to start her life over, she meets a man on a bus with a haunting familiarity that draws her to him.  Together they slowly rebuild their identity while also unraveling the mystery that brought them to their current state.

The director (Shane Carruth), who also played the supporting actor, used his craft to represent the human psyche without reservations.  The portrayals of inner turmoil within the two main characters was genuine, which complimented the authenticity of their chemistry.  Having two very broken individuals, with separate issues, and developing them in harmony on screen was impressive as well as engaging.

From the opening scene the viewer is pulled into a surreal sequence of imagery that only intensifies through each act.  The narrative of this film is given to the viewers in short fragments providing just enough information to keep you guessing.  The ambiguity of how these events were presented brought intrigue, along with a whirlwind of possibilities.

Giving the audience the option to focus on the several motifs instead of simply follow the captivating storyline, lead many to unveil abstract interpretations of film.  This style of storytelling encourages people to reminisce on what they saw, and after it digests, share what they took from the experience with others.

The direction of this film was risky and will not appeal to all audiences, but the fluidity created by the sounds, allegories, and the overall ambiance was choreographed into an artistic masterpiece.

Harold and Maude (Romance-Comedy-Drama)

maude“Live life, fake death, and let love grow like a sunflower”

Meet Harold, a morbid teenager who fakes elaborate suicides to get a rise out of his waspy mother and also enjoys long walks at the cemetery.  Meet Maude, a widow on the brink of 80 who sails through life without regret and is a collector of others valuables, a grand theft auto enthusiast and part-time environmental activist.  When these two run into each other at their favorite past-time, funeral crashing, what starts off as an unexpected friendship grows into a timeless romance.

This synopsis is true on the surface, but this is not the reason the movie has been a cult classic for decades.  From the opener a panning scene focuses solely on dress shoes with the melodies of Cat Stevens leading you unpredictably to a darker, yet unexpectedly comical and recurring incident of the film.  At this point you begin to realize that this is much more than a rom-com, and actually shouldn’t even be categorized as so.

The dualism of life and death is an obvious motif used bluntly throughout the film and usually shown in succession.  Coinciding with this, the picture ingeniously makes a mockery of serious subject matters that society deems offensive, taboo, or immoral usually at the expense of one of the supporting cast.  Theses memorable side characters are used primarily to bridge the development and fluidity of the plot, but they also unconsciously bring outlandish and dry humor with them. When looking beyond this observable narrative, you will see Harold and Maude dancing, singing, or usually causing mischief in pure spontaneity.

The layers of both Harold and Maude bloom in sync with their love story showing their true colors with every courageous step.  This film is undoubtedly held together by the unlikely bond between these two characters, but the core of the message is deeper than simply the “power of love”.  These two spirits were brought together to bring forth the realization of their fragile moralities,  teaching each other to cherish these brief moments and embrace the inevitable.