Romance movies are timeless. Everyone has his or her favorite romance movie. Most of the time, the romance movies serve a purpose, mostly, as an escapism. One thing that these movies do is that they keep the idea of romance alive. No matter how happy or tragic the ending is, romance movies are loved by its viewers for entertaining them and keeping their dream alive.
It begs a question.. what makes a great romance movie? There are some actors and actresses who are great for romance movies and some who do not. There are some stories that are simply remarkable and there are some stories that make you wonder who made it the first place. I believe that there are at least four criteria of a great romantic movie.
1. Likability of the Leads
First and foremost, the leads in the movie must be ‘likable’, meaning that the target audience love them and believe that they are lovers or can be lovers in real life. Which means that they must have chemistry between them. When the chemistry is there, it makes the interactions in the movie likable and believable. And it is important for the audience to like the leads for them to ‘get’ the movie.
This factor made Meg Ryan, the romantic comedy queen in late 80s / early 90s. Her two major performance in ‘When Harry Meet Sally’ and ‘Sleepless In Seattle’, paired with two great leading men, Billy Crystal and Tom Hanks, was a major tour de force. In both movies, she ‘clicked’ with both of them, which gave the movies critical and commercial success.
2. Simple And Clear Storyline
Another important criteria is the storyline. It has to be simple and clear, so that the viewer can understand what is going on in the movie, which means, who are the parties in love and what is the situation. Romance movies are not good grounds to do plot twist and turns as it will turn off the viewers as it will interfere with the viewers enjoyment of the romance. An example of good storyline was the movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in 2005. The movie did an excellent job in portraying the romance of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Darcy, showing the ‘games’ that both played with each other till they eventually fell in love in the end.
3. Movie Location / Background
The role of the movie location and background is to support and enhance the romance movie. It is not very important but it does play a role. The background refers to the cast that surrounds the leads, for example, family members or office mate. The movie location refers where the movie is situated. Usually, it is the movie locations that spice up the romance. A good example of the movie background is the cast of Four Weddings and a Funeral. In the movie, Charles’ set of eclectic friends complimented his ‘adventures’ in pursuing Carrie. A good example of movie location would be the location of Venice and Positano in Only You, starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, where it made the romance in the movie magical, with glorious location scenes, Italian language and songs.
4. Excellent Movie Song / Soundtrack
And finally, the killer criteria would be the song or soundtrack of the movie, as it enhances and reminds the viewer of the romance movie experience. Usually, it would be a pop song sung by the popular artist and it becomes a chart topper. An obvious example would be the song “My Heart Will Go On” sung by Celine Dion from the movie Titanic. The song functions as a killer hook that drives the success of the movie and does help the commercial success of the movie soundtrack and movie itself. In the movie, the song typically appears either as a short music clip or becomes an instrumental background.
Well, those are the four criteria that I think makes a great romance movie. There might be others but these are the four main criteria and when all four criteria appear in a romance movie, it is almost certain that the movie becomes a commercial and critical hit.