This is not a list of great romantic love stories featured in implausible, idealistic romantic comedies, but rather details couples whose interactions with one another truly demonstrate a realistic, believable affinity for one another.
A Single Man (2009) – George and Jim
It is the loss of this relationship that forms the basis for the narrative in A Single Man, affording the central romance between George (Colin Firth) and Jim (Matthew Goode) little screen time. Despite the brief screen time detailing this relationship, George and Jim’s short scenes together, portraying their blissful domesticity, is genuinely believable and truly touching. As much of the film deals with the after effects of Jim’s death, depicting the immense grief felt by George, it is vital that their relationship is one the viewer can invest in – Firth and Goode’s performances ensure this, Firth especially has never been better, his grief is palpable.
The Adjustment Bureau (2011) – Elise and David
Admittedly The Adjustment Bureau, whilst enjoyable, was only ever an average film at best, but was made infinitely better by its central romance. Elise (Emily Blunt) and David (Matt Damon) positively glow when in each other’s company. Their gentle teasing of one another is wonderfully engaging and enjoyable. Again this is a couple whose romance propels the narrative, it is vital that the viewer engages with Elise and David as a couple for the film to succeed – Blunt and Damon’s ability to play off one another enables this.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – Joel and Clementine
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet’s playful performance against type is all the more enjoyable when coupled with our awareness of Carrey’s previous comedic incarnations. It is in the scenes of Joel’s childhood as he attempts to hide Clementine in his memories that their relationship is most beautifully played out. Thoroughly charming and completely heartbreaking.
Lost in Translation (2003) – Bob and Charlotte
A relationship based on intellectual engagement rather than physical appeal, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) and Bob’s (Bill Murray) genuine affinity and empathy for one another delightfully develops. The casual viewer may rightly complain that little appears to take place within the film’s narrative, but for me, Lost in Translationis a perfect exercise in subtlety. We may not entirely understand Charlotte and Bob’s relationship, indeed the viewer is not privy to Bob’s parting words, but we believe in their understanding of one another.
Away We Go (2009) – Verona and Burt
Verona (Maya Rudolph) and Burt (John Krasinski) are a couple who are entirely in-tune with one another, their relationship based upon familiarity created by the length of time they have known one another. This familiarity is, refreshingly, portrayed in a positive manner – they are not bored with one another, or desiring the fresh thrill of a new relationship. They are simply a couple in love, who understand one another and truly get along.