Have you seen The Notebook too many times to count? Do you know all the words to every song in Dirty Dancing (including the one about wind)? Are you always on the lookout for new romantic movies? No probs. We’re here to help you, my friend. Diagnosis: Hopeless romantic. Treatment: One of our favourite foreign films – to be taken with food (preferably mint choc chip ice cream).
Ada apa dengan cinta? / What’s up with Love? (2002)
Actually one of my favourite movies, Ada apa dengan Cinta? is somewhat of a cult classic when it comes to Indonesian cinema. Set in a high school in Jakarta, the basic premise is popular girl Cinta, falls for bad boy Rangga, much to the dismay of her group of besties. Rangga is moody, a bit of a loner, and also a poet. In fact, Cinta and Rangga first meet when he wins the school poetry contest she was sure she would win. Then there’s the whole “will they, won’t they?” scenario – she doesn’t want her friends to judge her, and he isn’t impressed at all by her popularity or her friends. But as they get to know each other and bond over poetry and literature, they realise there’s more to each other than meets the eye. Other winning points: top-notch chemistry between Rangga and Cinta, Nicholas Saputra (Rangga) is hot, and a sequel was released in August this year (only 14 years later!). And I can tell you, it was epic and romantic and everything a long-term fan like me could ever want out of a sequel. In fact … I might have enjoyed the sequel even more than the original.
Palmeras en la Nieve / palm trees in the snow (2015)
This is one of those sweeping, old school romances (i.e. my favourite kind). Partly set in the 1950s, it’s about two brothers, Killian and Jacobo, who move from Spain to Equatorial Guinea where their father owns a cocoa plantation. Killian is the younger of the two. He’s a good guy, and it doesn’t hurt he’s very easy on the eye. His brother, however, it a total creep. Anyway, Killian falls in love with local woman Bisila, which I guess was a taboo at the time so their romance is not only a secret, but also somewhat dangerous should they be found out. While the romance part of this film is undeniably beautiful, it’s not the only storyline. It’s also partly set in present-day, and in this story, Killian’s niece, Clarence, is researching her heritage through letters and photographs she finds, and has a romance of her own. But really, it’s all about Killian and Bisila for me. They could have left out the whole Clarence storyline and the movie would have been just as good.
Νύφες / BRIDES (2004)
Not since Titanic has there been so much romance, drama and white lace on-board a ship. Brides is set in 1922 and tells the story of American photographer and hot redhead Norman (Damian Lewis) who journeys across the seas with 700 Greek and Russian mail order brides on their way to America. Niki (Victoria Haralabidou), a hardworking and stiff-browed seamstress, is being sent over – get this – as a replacement bride for her sister Eleni who apparently “didn’t take to American life”. Despite Niki’s ridiculous familial obligations and Norman’s (failed) marriage, they fall in love. The brilliant cinematography, breathtaking Greek islands, honest performances and haunting soundtrack make this worth watching. It’s a tearjerker so make sure your tissue supply is well stocked.
In 1958, suave insurance agent Louis (Romain Duris) hires 21-year-old klutz Rose (Déborah François) to be his secretary. She is an absolute disaster but can work the hell out of a typewriter – with just two fingers. Her speed is so insane that competitive ex-sportsman Louis is determined to make her a champion typist. He trains her at length, teaching her to play the piano and attempting to get her to type the traditional way (with all fingers). He enters her into competitions that lead her to the world championship. They spend endless hours together and grow closer but Louis is totally clueless and totally focused on the contest. Its flirty soundtrack, fun production design and general 50s rom-com vibe makes it feel like a Doris Day movie – without the singing.
Герой / THE heritage of love (2016)
What is it with foreign period romances? There’s an extra element of charm when the hero is whispering sweet nothings in another language and another time. The Heritage of Love might not be the best romantic movie – in fact, you probably wouldn’t even find it in the top 50 romantic movies in Russia…BUT it’s still got a lot going for it. 1. Awesome costumes – it’s partially set during the Russian Revolution so there’s a bit of swag. 2. The leading man Dima Bilan, who plays both Andrey Kulikov AND his great-grandfather Andrey Dolmatov (don’t ask), is the Russian equivalent of Johnny Depp (don’t go by the picture above, it makes him look like Gerard Butler). 3. It’s inspired by a true story – don’t ask any follow up questions but just know that this makes it more credible. 4. A mysterious woman who likes dancing in the rain – Vera (Svetlana Ivanova) is both a Duchess in the past and a possible ghost/possible reincarnation in the present that both Andreys fall in love with. Who doesn’t love a good romantic mystery (if that’s what it was – still unclear)?
Have you got a fave foreign romance you’d like to share? Comment below!