Ireland’s romantic fiction writers tell Caomhán Keane about their favourite love-themed movies of all time
Tis the season for ostentatious displays of affection. But just because you’re rotting your teeth with heart-shaped candy doesn’t mean you should be rotting your mind with moronic Vom Coms. We ask some of the countries best romantic fiction writers what they love, loathe, and laugh at in the cinematic realm.
My favourite romantic movie is A Room With A View. The period makes it such a pure romance; it’s not going to be demonstrative or exposed. It’s restrained, which makes the romance even more titillating, like when they kiss in the poppy field in the Tuscan light.... until Maggie Smith breaks it up!
But I don’t believe in a happy ending for the sake of it. With La La Land, I laughed and cried but was ultimately so sad for the life they didn’t have together. But that made the feelings I experienced all the more real.
Or Dangerous Liaisons, which is a really great allegory for the dark side of love, where you’re not sure who loves whom right up until the end and then it’s all lost because they cannot express their feelings for one another because that’s the society was. And now they’re all dead!
Michelle Jackson, Seven Wishes in Rome, available on Amazon.michellejackson.ie/
I’m a sucker for a satisfying ending. It doesn’t have to be boy meets girl. It can be them realising that they’re not the right one for each other... or that someone else is the right one for the man they love, and they have to help them make it work, as happens in My Best Friend’s Wedding.
My absolute favourite is Ghost, which is a whole exploration of what it is to love and lose someone and how hard that can be for people — letting people go because it’s the right thing to do. You don’t want to have to have the box of tissues beside you the whole time, but I think it’s great when a movie makes you cry. It means you feel deeply about the characters. That’s why I hated Love Actually. It was so contrived.
Sheila O Flanagan, author of What Happened That Night, sheilaoflanagan.com
The perfect rainy afternoon treat is to switch on the stove and disappear into old Hollywood. What I loved about those movies is that the woman was so often equal to the man; she gave as much as him, but deep down they always had a deep bond. I like a good, strong relationship.
That’s why Gone With The Wind is my favourite romance. She is such a fiery heroine, she can’t see that she is greatly loved and has wasted her time loving someone who isn’t worth loving. Rhett loved the bones of her, he’s always there in her hour of need and she doesn’t recognise it.
That moment after the miscarriage, where she is calling for him, you know that she has just realised she has loved him all that time-, and that he would now know it too… it’s a tragedy of mistiming.
Patricia Scanlon, author of Orange Blossom Days
What makes love stories tragic is when a romance ultimately makes the character invisible, it has taken up their whole life and they are left with this awful regret. My own interest are in the beginnings. That’s why I love teen movies, as they are all about beginnings. It’s not too late, you can always start again.
I also like anomalies in a classic romantic arc, like in The Way We Were, where Robert Redford is unquestionably beautiful and Barbra Streisand is more quirky and unusual looking. It also has a brilliant soundtrack. I hate it when music is heavy-handed, particularly in Nicholas Sparks’ adaptations, which I despise. They are so unlikable and maudlin.
Eithne Shortall is the author of Love in Row 27. Her new book, Grace After Henry, is out in May
Location isn’t all that important to me. Romance in a mundane setting can absolutely transform it into something wonderful, like the romance between Tim and Dawn in The Office: you can’t get a more bland setting than that!
The opening segment of Up is probably one of the most sweet, romantic and absolutely heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen. The way they almost wordlessly show a whole life in the first few moments.
My dream onscreen pairing is King Kong and Godzilla. Every time we see them on-screen together, they’re fighting. But almost all movie relationships are born from antagonism, right? Godzilla and King Kong have been at war for decades but one day they will realise that all the screaming and biplane-swatting and building-crushing was just a mask for their true feelings.
Michael Carroll writes romantic fiction under the pseudonym Jaye Carroll michaelowencarroll.com/
Once I believe in the relationship of the characters and it feels authentic, I’m happy. The romance I go back to the most, though, is Frankie and Johnny. Johnny (Al Pacino) is a short order cook, just released from prison who falls for waitress Frankie (Michelle Pfeiffer).
It’s quiet and honest, with flawed leads. Beautiful. And it has the best kiss. They stand in front of a truck and as they have their first kiss, the door of the truck opens up, revealing thousands of colourful flowers. Perfect!
Carmel Harrington is the author of Cold Feet: The Lost Years and The Woman at 72 Derry Lane