50 Favorite Romances: 31 - 35

Also check out 1 - 56 - 10, 11 - 15, 16 - 20, 21 - 25, and 26 - 30.

31. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

He always said you could fight with somebody and still like him.
Here's proof that Martin Scorsese can direct women without the male gaze. Ellen Burstyn plays newly widowed mom Alice Hyatt, trying on a new life and new career in a new town. She has some missteps in romance and finding a job, but eventually lets David (Kris Kristofferson) into her life. It's not an easy transition, and there's some tension with Alice's child (Alfred Lutter III plays one of the most kid-like kids I've ever seen in movies*), but they make it work. This recap is cheesier than I mean Alice to sound. Since it's Scorsese, it's much grittier and has some genuinely terrifying moments. I appreciate that most about this movie, besides 1970s Kristofferson.

32. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Comedy, love, and a bit with a dog. That's what they want.
I could watch Joseph Fiennes look like he's in love all day. As Shakespeare, he's rather charming as a frenetic writer/actor who falls in love with a cross-dressing woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) who wants to be in the theater despite her gender. Blah blah blah, there are arranged marriages and since it's an all-star British cast, Colin Firth's character is getting shafted and Judi Dench is shrill and Geoffrey Rush is there. What makes this film so delightful are the Shakespeare in-jokes. They manage to use many of his techniques for humor and drama (hidden identities, forbidden love, puns, double entendres, humor mixed with tragedy, allusions to Shakespeare's other works) without being cloying. That's quite a feat. 

33. Brief Encounter (1945)

It's awfully easy to lie when you know that you're trusted implicitly. So very easy, and so very degrading.
There's something very British and restrained about Brief Encounter. It's a film about possibility and choices. Laura Jesson (Cecelia Johnson) is a married housewife who meets an also married doctor (Trevor Howard) on the train during her weekly trip into town. They enjoy each other's company and meet up again. The slowly realize they're falling in love and have to make a decision about where their relationship is heading. Not much happens in the film, but that doesn't make it less effective. It means we get to live inside Laura's brainspace as she works through the events of the last few weeks and how significant it was for her to be interested in someone new.

34. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

My embarrassing admission is I really like that you're nice right now.
Science fiction as I wish it was used more often: to highlight the human condition** in a heightened world. In this world, Joel (Jim Carrey) gets the memory of his recent ex Clemintine (Kate Winslet) removed from his brain. But as he's in the process, he realizes he doesn't want to forget the memories, because all the good ones are going, too. The quirky supporting cast also supports the messiness of love and posits that some relationships are inevitable.

35. Roman Holiday (1953)
I've never been alone with a man before, even with my dress on. With my dress off, it's most unusual.
Audrey Hepburn plays Princess Ann of Madeupland who goes off on a holiday all by herself for the very first time. She lives out her dream with the help of a newspaper man Joe Bradly (Gregory Peck) with an assist from bearded photographer Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert). Mishaps, blackmail, and wholesome fun are had by all, all while Ann and Joe grow an attachment to each other. It's one of the sweeter tales of journalist-only-hangs-out-with-girl-for-a-story-but-then-falls-in-love, and I like it. The ending is bittersweet and real to the characters. I'll always wish for a Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and the facial features to pull of Audrey's short haircut. Sigh. If only.

*Meaning, he's kind of super weird and gets annoying, but is also surprisingly smart and sometimes intentionally funny.
**Feel free to slap me through the screen for that phrase.


  1. Love Roman Holiday. Love Brief Encounter. Love that you invited your readers to slap you for saying "the human condition."

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