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Forget expensive dates and romantic getaways – the only way to really celebrate with your loved one is curling up with a good movie.
Whether you’re staying cosy indoors, or stepping out to the pictures, films have long been perfect date night fare. Plus, there’s popcorn.
Not all romantic films age well – gender politics shift too swiftly for that – but below are our pick of the classic films that still have a thoroughly romantic pull.
If you’re determined to get out, perhaps before or after a film, read our round-up of London’s most romantic restaurants and bars.
1999’s Notting Hill is one of the classic British romcoms: Richard Curtis’s screenplay is sparky and soppy in equal measure and Hugh Grant delivers one of his best performances. In it, he picks up where he left off in Four Weddings and a Funeral, all stutters and twiddling with his glasses. Julia Roberts is cast perfectly, while Emma Chambers charmed as Grant’s giggling, manic sister.
13 Going on 30
Jennifer Garner delivers a bright performance alongside a pre-Hulk Mark Ruffalo in this 2004 favourite. It’s a classic body-swap comedy setup, with the pair playing childhood sweethearts who reconnect after Garner’s character is transported into the body of a 30-year-old woman. It’s fun, sweet and a little silly – just the thing if you’re getting tipsy on the fizz.
Romeo & Juliet
Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes play the titular star-crossed lovers in Baz Luhrmann’s stunning Shakespear adaptation. It’s an unforgettable tale, and even if the ending isn’t exactly cheery, it’s story of young love is as powerful and enduring as ever.
If in doubt, stick with DiCaprio. Even for those who’ve seen Titanic over and over, the touching romance between Kate Winslet’s Rose and DiCaprio’s Jack is always worth revisiting – their scene together dancing to the Irish jigs fizzles as they dance grasping hands, eyes locked, lost in each other. The raft is a problem, though.
The late, great Patrick Swayze stars as charismatic dance instructor Johnny Castle in the unforgettable Dirty Dancing. Jennifer Grey also delivers a top performance as 17-year-old dancer Baby, who falls head over heels against all the odds in this 1987 classic. Tipsily trying the famous lift is probably best avoided.
Get the tissues out for this one. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’ The Notebook is a weepy but uplifting romcom, which has been one of the go-to romantic films for couples everywhere since its release in 2004. The film is hardly subtle when it tugs at viewers heartstrings, but it remains one of the most epic cinematic love stories of recent times.
Critically-lauded romantic drama Carol stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as two women who conduct a forbidden love affair in 1950s New York. Beautifully and beguiling adapted from Patricia Highsmith romance novel, it was even once voted the best LGBTQ film of all time at the BFI Flare festival.
Me Before You
Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin star together in this touching film, which explores the central relationship between a carer and a man left paralysed by a motorcycle accident. It’s a moving watch, in which the pair learn to enjoy life and find love in difficult circumstances.
Saoirse Ronan plays a young Irish woman who finds love after moving to New York in this romantic drama from 2015. After her strict mother puts pressure on her to return to Ireland and settle down, she must make a choice between what is expected of her and what her heart longs for.
My Best Friend’s Wedding
Julia Roberts proved herself as queen of the 90s romcom with My Best Friend’s Wedding. The film, also starring Cameron Diazm and Michael O’Neal, may have a questionable premise – Roberts is trying to win over an old love, in front of his fiancee – but it is a pleasingly unvarnished look at how complicated love can be. The real star, though, is Rupert Everett; his turn is worth a watch alone.
When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally has been winning over new generations of fans ever since being released back in 1989, and its appeal is still irresistible nearly thirty years on. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal have unmistakable chemistry, and the film is rightly regarded as one of the greatest romcoms of all time. And whatever you do, have what she’s having.