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Movie kisses are overrated – or why movie love is best when miserable

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“… and so they lived happily together for the rest of their lives.”

This was the way fairy tales used to end when I grew up, way before Disney realized that girls actually dream of other things than marriage.

Nowadays I find most love stories with happy endings quite unbearable. Is there anything more boring than to see a couple wrapped up in their own little bubble of happiness? They obviously don’t care for anything but themselves. Why should I care about them?

The movie bloggers in Sweden run a blogathon every month and the theme of February was “love”. (I suspect that the upcoming Valentines’s Day might have something to do with this).

And the more I thought about the topic, the more I realized how dark I want my love movies to be.

You have to push me hard to come up with a love movie with a happy loving couple that I truly love. I suppose there are a few in Love Actually, but my favourite one in that movie is the miserable guy who communicates his unfulfilled love with cards. Then there’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is a bit in-between and not very clear about the prospects of the future. One of my favourite love couples in a movie last year was Only Lovers Left Alive. If you think about it, their relationship is pretty great. But their overall life situation isn’t.

So let’s have a look at my current favourite movie couples:

10. Perfect Sense
Susan and Michael fall in love. Unfortunately the world is coming to its end meanwhile. It’s just a shame that I don’t know of anyone else apart from me who has seen this film.

roman holiday
9. Roman Holiday
Joe and Princess Ann fail badly in overcoming the class divide.

8. Never Let Me Go
As if a dystopian society wasn’t enough, poor Kathy and Tommy are separated from each other because of jealousy.

7. Bright Star
Fanny Brawne and John Keats, seperated by a wall of financial issues and disease. The further away they are from each other, the more I root for them.
brief enc

6. Brief Encounter
There isn’t much physical contact between Laura and Dr Alec during their brief encounters at a railway station café. But this means that every little touch will mean something. Oh, that touch on the shoulder – immensely more erotic than any intercourse possibly could be. The impossible love is the sweetest one.


5. Brokeback Mountain
Ennis and Jack. Do I really need to say anything? Isn’t this the most heart breaking love movie ever?


4. The Bridges of Madison County
Robert and Fransesca – competing with Brokeback mountain for the title “Most tear provoking love movie ever). It’s a shame that it appears so rarely on people’s top lists.

3. Lost in Translation

I’m not entirely sure of the nature of the relationship between Charlotte and Bob, what to make of the food holding scene and exactly what words that were uttered in their final meeting. Regardless what, they’re my favourite platonic love couple evs.


2. The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton and Mr Stevens. Every time I watch this movie I can’t help hoping that you’ll step out of your comfort zones, cross the barriers and confess your love to each other. Miracles DO happen, right?


1. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight
Oh, Jessie. Oh, Celine. Unlike most couples on my top list, you aren’t doomed. Your relationship is worth saving, though it will require some effort. Please, please give it a try!

Separation, yearning, death and disaster, misery and melancholy. There you are, my favourite ingredients for love movies. And all movie kisses are overrated, unless they’re performed in a sense of danger and desperation.




Here are the takes on love in movies by my fellow bloggers (in Swedish):

Fiffis filmtajm
Fripps filmrevyer
Har du inte sett den?
The Nerd Bird
Rörliga bilder och tryckta ord

This must be the ultimate mood setter for my Roman holiday

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In less than one week I’m heading to Rome for a short vacation in company with my 18 year old daughter. Usually I barely ever open the weather app in my smart phone, but now I’m obsessing over it, checking it out at least once every hour to see if there’s any change. But the closer to the take-off we get, the more certain does the app seem to be in its prediction. We’d better bring an umbrella. Or at least be prepared to buy one from the umbrella sellers I assume are swamping the streets, if it’s anything like Athens.

This isn’t how I pictured it. In Rome you’re supposed to stroll around in ancient quarters under an eternally shining sun. When you need to cool yourself you have an ice cream or take off for a romantic ride through the city on a vespa. If you get wet, it’s from sweat. Rain is unheard of. At least in the movies I’ve seen.

Earlier this year I watched Allen’s latest movie, To Rome with Love, which I probably liked more than most others because of my upcoming trip. Even if some of the stories are a little thin, it’s excellent as a tourist leaflet. Last night the turn came to another movie taking place in Rome: Roman Holiday.

I insisted on that the young lady I’m travelling with should watch it too. It appeared to be a part of the preparations for the journey, as essential as localizing our passports and getting some local currency.

Too old?
Classic or not, I wasn’t entirely sure of what she’d make of it. I knew she was open minded, ready to embrace movies outside of the box office hit lists, but maybe this was to stretch her tolerance too far? Black and white, almost as old as her grandmother – maybe it was too old to be enjoyable?

But I needn’t have worried. This film hits your cinematic vein like a glass of champagne. Soon enough she was sparkling as much as I was. We were charmed by Audrey Hepburn, we fell in love with the love story between the princess on the run and the man of the people and we laughed at the lighthearted comedy.

It brought us to a different world, where cell phones didn’t exist and people talked to each other and watched the street life rather than keeping updated with the updates of acquaintances on Facebook.  A world where even the shadiest of paparazzi would observe codes of honor and duty.  I’m not sure it ever existed in real life, but so what? Sometimes a well told fairy tale is what you need most.

I’m afraid watching Roman Holiday hasn’t helped a bit to set our expectations right. I’m now more convinced than ever that Rome will be beautiful, romantic, sunny rather than polluted, noisy and rainy. But so what? I’ll happily remain in that bubble of belief for one more week, until reality hits us.

And when it does, I will recall one of my favorite lines of Gregory Peck (labelled by the 18 year old as a “hunk”):

Well, life isn’t always what one likes, is it?”

Roman Holiday (William Wyler, US, 1953) My rating: 4,5/5

Written by Jessica

October 24, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Roman Holiday