Let me tell you a story. I’m friends with a couple who has a minor issue in their relationship. Let’s call them Bonnie and Clyde. It seems like Clyde always takes Bonnie for granted. I know that Clyde has his type of girl in mind, and that is, “the cool girl,” but I thought that he was over it since he fell in love with Bonnie. He complains about Bonnie’s attachment and emotions, which are totally opposite to his ideal.
One night, Bonnie was hanging out at my place. She opened up about Clyde, as usual. After a few hours, she started opening Netflix and watched the series How I Met Your Mother. While the second episode was playing, a premonition hit me. “Eureka! The reason for his “cool girl” allegory is that series!” I told her ecstatically. She agreed. I was very right.
Clyde was a huge fan of the series that he wanted to live it. Like Ted, he was idealizing Robin, the cool girl. But the problem was, Bonnie was so unlike Robin. I talked to Clyde about it and he didn’t deny it. I reprimanded him a bit about it (I was way older than he is), and he capitulated. It somehow improved their relationship. Thanks to me (LOL).
Films and TV series have evolved from being made solely for entertainment, to address issues that are significant to society. However, those types of films (i.e., historical, political, psychological, etc.) remain as arthouses, or if not, the issues are so well-hidden that audiences fail to recognize them. But there’s one type of film genre that moves audiences more than any genre could, and that is rom-com (romantic comedy).
Any film or series about love, however dramatic or hilarious is now considered a rom-com. Romcoms encapsulate what we need in our lives–that is love, and the need to feel loved. Many romcoms also address deeper-seated issues in love and relationships, whether or not they are ended commercially. They help us re-evaluate our relationships.
This blog post is about rom-com films and how they created an impact on our lives, based on our relationship status. I’ve also asked a few friends to share their lists. If you can name more films, please leave a comment.
I believe that romcoms are mostly made for singles. Some romcoms will carve a cynic out of them, while some will give them hope. Watching romcoms gives them a test drive to their next or first relationship.
Roman Holiday, Hello Love Goodbye, That thing called Tadhana, Before Sunrise – I noticed that when I was single, and when people are single, they liked to mull and cry over “almost is never enough” and road/travel romcoms. If you think about it bluntly, even at the start of the film, you know that the leads are bound for an impossible relationship (whether they live far apart or they have other priorities in life). I would always look forward to a sequel for these types as I expect that somewhere in the future, the universe will bring the two leads together again.
Single people experience the ups and downs in this type of romcom. The meet-cute, deep attraction and connection, and eventual separation is a formula that always strikes a nerve. Hence, this type of rom-com is highly marketable.
Love, Simon – A lot of singles can relate to this mind-fuck of a movie of finding out Simon’s mystery man. As a coming-of-age LGBT film, it also addresses issues people coming out of the closet.
Got to Believe in Magic – The two characters in the film epitomizes how romcoms make single audiences feel. One character is a cynic and the other one is a hopeless romantic. But it doesn’t take a long time before they realize they’re in love with each other and eventually act on their desires.
Her – This film is truly unique. What separates it from the rest is the issues it tackles on loneliness and technology. *Spoiler alert* A lot of people judge the character Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix) but I get where he’s coming from. He was just in the midst of a divorce from his wife, so he was very vulnerable in accepting the technology available to him. In other parts of the world, particularly in Japan, some men (called otakus) even marry anime characters, and that’s how they feel and what they believe. This idea was just brought to them by the system and society, which has no right to judge people like them.
“I can’t relate to Theodore’s character in the sense that he was in love with a robot, but loneliness can get to you. I’ve experienced that agony.” – A man of few words, electrical engineer.
Enchanted, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Beast and the Beauty 야수와 미녀, Pretty in Pink – These funny and heartwarming films are easy to watch, but you can still get a lesson or two from them. They’re some of the films that people, single or taken, would watch again and again.
50 First Dates – “I was single and never had a boyfriend yet when the movie was released. It affected me in a way that I was bothered whether a guy could actually do for me what Henry (Adam Sandler) has done for Lucy (Drew Barrymore), in case a similar incident happens to me.” – Shiela Java-Guinal, Professor of Linguistics at the Ateneo de Davao University
In a Relationship
Ruby Sparks – Watching this film is very integral to every relationship, especially to those just getting to know one another. We tend to idealize the one who tickles our fancy, but it takes openness, honesty, and acceptance of our SO’s quirks and shortcomings to make the relationship work.
Sid and Nancy – If you keep fighting with your SO, you would feel better watching this film as Sid and Nancy’s relationship (based on the real-life relationship of Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen) was highly tumultuous. *Spoiler alert* Sid ended up killing Nancy. Their relationship is well-embedded in pop culture, and according to Malcolm McLaren, Sex Pistols’ manager, it also is one of the main causes of the band’s breakup.
You’ve Got Mail – Do you love your SO? If not, do you have to wait for the right one before breaking up with her/him/them? This film is one of my feel-good favorites, but it’s amazing how Kathleen (Meg Ryan) and Joe (Tom Hanks) stayed in bad relationships for a long time.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – “This film affected me greatly as my relationship with my ex-boyfriend was like Clementine and Joel’s. Our personalities are also like them. My ex, like Joel, was the timid and patient one, while I was crazy and turbulent, like Clementine. However, unlike them, my ex and I didn’t reunite as a couple. It was my fault why we broke up. I pushed him away. It took a while to forget him, so while I was watching the film, I wished that there was also a memory erasure procedure that I could avail.” – ChokedBeauty, law student
A Life Less Ordinary – This black comedy was a fun ride. If you’ve come to the boring state of your loving relationship, then you’ll enjoy this.
Blue Valentine, Marriage Story – When one is currently married or in a relationship, I wouldn’t stop them from subjugating themselves in these horrors–I mean romcoms because if they’re with the right person, then there is nothing to worry about. If they’re with the wrong person, these films will make them want to reevaluate their relationship.
Amour – This film’s theme is rarely tackled in mainstream films and it is highly debatable, as it is about Euthanasia. *Spoiler alert* The film is about an aged couple, Ann and Georges. Ann suffers from a stroke and Georges tends to him. Ann’s condition has become worse (she even tried to commit suicide), and they struggle to find the right nurse for her. In the end, Georges decided to smother her.
I haven’t let my parents watch it, but I’m really curious about how this would affect them. Watch the film, and tell me what you think about it in the comments.
Once, Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising, In the Mood for Love, Lost in Translation, Hiroshima, Mon Amour – It didn’t take long before the leads in these films made a deep connection. They all have confused and estranged feelings in their own committed relationships, and they found themselves opening up to (perhaps) attractive strangers. Films like these would definitely impact people in challenging relationships. They are poignant and “a must-watch” for everyone.
Before Midnight – “To be honest, this film scared me a bit. As a newlywed, I know there would be more challenges to my marriage, but I hope that we will get through it, like Jesse and Celine.” – Bok-Joo, freelance artist
P.S. I Love You – “I love how the film showed me how I could prepare and help the person I love [who loves me too!] to move on in case a similar thing happens to me. It helped me transcend the issues of death and letting go.” – Shiela Java-Guinal, professor of Linguistics
Singles – This film has different love stories about single people’s crossover to being in committed relationships: a woman looking for her ideal man, a couple contemplating whether they move to the next level or not, and two neighbors who have mutual-understanding, but take awhile to blossom it into a real relationship. It’s one of my favorite films because it centers around the grunge era, with several band members appearing in the film. The soundtrack kicks ass, too.
Harold and Maude – You really have to watch the relationship between 80-year-old Maude and 20-year-old Harold. It’s beauty lies in the quirky and complicated love between the two.
City of Angels – “Though it has a fantasy element, I like how the irony of winning and losing is portrayed. It reminded me that there are things that are beyond our control, outside the emotions that I think I sometimes we cannot control.” – Shiela Java-Guinal, professor of Linguistics
Psychologists say that if you are heartbroken, it’s best to wallow in your grief. That way, it would be easy for you to accept the reality that you have loved and lost.
Chungking Express, America’s Sweethearts, Annie Hall, Forgetting Sarah Marshall – These films are all about closure. The films revealed what went wrong in their relationships. These types of films would somehow help brokenhearted people cope up by remembering all the bad things about their exes. The films also remind them that there will be someone new to distract them from their old flames.
One More Chance – This film just hits the bullseye. Even if the characters ended up together again, the entire film is painful. No wonder it has a huge space in the Philippine cinema.
Love Letter (Japanese film) – This film is about moving on. Hiroko was grieving about her fiance’s death, and while doing so, she found his old address and started writing to it. The address turned out to be her fiance’s high school classmate and namesake, Itsuko. Through Itsuko, she finds out more about her deceased fiance, who had always eluded her.
The Breakup Playlist – This film isn’t really about coping up and being nostalgic about your ex, but it’s about realizing that if your ex is like Gino Avila (played by Piolo Pascual), then you should never get back together with him, no matter what the film’s producers say (LOL).
I’m Drunk, I love you – “Although I was already married when I saw this, it opened [somehow] poignant feelings of seeing myself once in Maja’s shoes – struggling with unrequited love, and the difficulty of saying no to the company of someone you [once] loved.” – Shiela Java-Guinal, professor of Linguistics
Love That Never Dies
Titanic – Despite Rose being married and having grandchildren, she had never forgotten about Jack. I mean, if you were in her shoes, would you?
Muli – This film is very political (it raises a lot of political issues such as communism during the Marcos era, religion, and LGBT), but if you’re a viewer who’s not very keen on politics, you would only be able to detect Jun and Errol’s love story, which is forbidden. They rely on seeing each other every few years, and when they do, it’s really a love written in the stars.
I watched Muli with my mother about 9 years ago and during that time, she wasn’t completely accepting of LGBT love yet, but this film made her an ally. She was rooting for Jun and Errol’s relationship.
Before Sunset – This film, the second part of the Julie Delpy-Ethan Hawke-Richard Linklater trilogy is my favorite as far as the love story of Celine and Jesse goes (when it comes to their conversations, my favorite is Before Midnight). Jesse comes to Paris to promote his book (which is about his encounter with Celine 9 years ago) and to his surprise, Celine comes to visit him. *Spoiler alert* They spend his remaining time in Paris together, only to have sparked their love once again. This film would also make an impact on single people, especially with Celine’s outburst on why all the men she have been with would not choose her in the end. However, the story takes a turn as Jesse decided to miss his flight back to America.
“I related to this film because I had to choose my husband over my past lover. I realized that it was my husband whom I really love. My choice was almost whirlwind and immediate, much like Jesse’s.” – Betty G., accountant
A Little Bit of Everything
Dahil Mahal na Mahal Kita – A love lost and love found, this film, despite almost being a novelty, deals with a lot of issues like judgment, bullying, among others. The evolution of Mela (Claudine Barretto) from being a slutty miss to being a virgin introvert was ludicrous, but despite that, and obvious class and personality divide between her and Miguel (Rico Yan), you can’t help but still root for them. The two actors’ chemistry was undeniable, in spite of the unhealthy bond of their characters.
Blue is the warmest color – This film is an epic. *Spoiler alert* While it centers on Adèle’s evolution, confusion, and loneliness, it focuses heavily around her relationship with Emma, from their first encounter to the day Adèle realizes she had completely lost her. Their different social classes was one of the main culprits of the breakup, although it’s not easily spotted. But it also seemed like Adèle was different without her, with the film ending with Adèle being lonely again (that’s not to say that she wasn’t lonely being with Emma too).
500 Days of Summer – This film is a cult classic because it’s very profound. The story is non-linear, so almost every inch of the problem of the relationship between Summer (Zooey Deschannel) and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is undetectable. *Spoiler alert* The first time you watch the film, you would forget about all the clues that Summer gave and would empathize with Tom, but if you think about it, you realize that Summer clearly told Tom that she wasn’t really looking for something serious. It was Tom who was idealizing Summer and his relationship with her. In the end, however, he somehow remains clueless as to why Summer played him, but at least he meets Autumn.
The audience is lucky enough to be able to realize everything that happened to Tom and Summer’s hell of a rollercoaster. In fact, I believe that each one of us has become a Tom, at one point in our lives. I hope that people also learn from the mistakes of both characters, and foresee if someone is really in it in the long run before they get completely attached to tha person.
There is a legion of other films that have greatly impacted us as an audience, but I want to focus my conclusion on anti-romcoms. Romcoms, mostly in indie cinema, have always been anti-romcom, but they sell because people relate to them.
A lot of these anti-romcoms are chance encounters. I’m not sure if these chance-encounter films like Roman Holiday, That Thing Called Tadhana, Lost in Translation, and Hiroshima Mon Amour really do happen in real life. I’m affected by these types of films because I hate putting complications in relationships. However, a lot of scientists and sociologists have already argued that “Monogamy is a myth,” and even if you’re currently taken, there is a way that you would fall in love with someone else, especially with this overrated chance encounters. Romcoms help us accept that reality.
What’s your current relationship status? Can you share a film or two that has a great impact on you right now? Comment them below.
Art by Jim Morada