Mia and Sebastian - La La Land
Whether you love it or hate it – or love to hate it, La La Land is one of the biggest films of the 21st Century. At the heart of its success is the chemistry between protagonists Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone). The film is set in modern day L.A but featuring two characters who seem to prefer the 1940s lifestyle, both looking to fulfil their dreams. They meet, and fall instantly in love, dancing the night away in the Hollywood hills overlooking the glistening city lights. The film is sickly sweet, but Gosling and Stone’s chemistry eases much of the cringe factor. Gosling’s effortless charisma and Stone’s humourous performance make them a likeable couple whose coincidental meeting and oversimplified relationship is the quintessential classical Hollywood romance that many idealise and desire. Providing an updated version of the iconic duo that popularised the star system of Hollywood’s golden era, La La Land latches on to the romanticisation of the past, satisfying a modern audience’s obsession with vintage culture. The image of Mia and Sebastian tap dancing on top of the Hollywood hills is one of the most identifiable images of our contemporary cinematic era. In years to come, when a new generation are re-watching old movies, Gosling and Stone will be remembered as icons of this current cinematic moment.
Kit & Holly - Badlands
In Terence Malick's classic noir crime film, Badlands, starring Martin Sheen as the charismatic rogue Kit Carruthers and Sissy Spacek as ingénue Holly Sargis, we find a timeless evocation of romance gone wrong. Against the gloomy and desolate backdrop of a stark South Dakota, an unlikely companionship is formed by maverick Kit and the naive Holly. The development of this romance is tarnished by Kit's nihilistic tendencies, ultimately resulting in the murder of Holly's father, a plethora of other senseless killings and a complete laceration of all ties that the couple once had with the civilised world. Initially, despite becoming a fugitive at a vulnerable and impressionable age, Holly perversely remains infatuated with the picaresque Kit even after witnessing the depraved actions for which he is responsible. Holly's trite, platitudinous narration detailing her ephemeral affection for Kit throughout the film underscores the irony of the loveless situation in which they find themselves. Kit continues to cling onto an increasingly disenchanted Holly as his killing spree escalates, but eventually their romance expires. In a tragically emotive final sequence, Holly's adolescent obsession seems to dissipate as she nonchalantly refuses to run any further with Kit from the law. As simply as that, devotion morphs into indifference at a crucial moment for Kit. Oh, how fickle romance can be.
Christian & Satine - Moulin Rouge!
Megan Mullally & Nick Offerman
Katherine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy
Harold & Maude - Harold and Maude
If there was ever a filmmaker who truly understood, no, truly revelled in unabashed, unashamed, unbridled romance, it is Baz Luhrmann. The australian auteur has never been more on his game than with Moulin Rouge!’s central pair. Christian’s affable charm and endearing idealism is performed with ease by Ewan McGregor opposite Nicole Kidman’s Satine who manages to be at once the fiery courtesan and still the heartbroken innocent. Even Luhrmann’s adaptation of the most iconic of all romances, Romeo + Juliet cannot compete with the sheer movie magic created by Christian and Satine’s poignant solo ballad and powerfully emotive duets. The trajectory of this iconic couple move from heart-warming to heart-wrenching to heart-breaking in a whirlwind emotional and musical rollercoaster. As is so often the case in Luhrmann’s work, this couple has a mantra, Christian and Satine consistently repeat to each other that “the greatest thing you will ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return”. This message is simultaneously simple and complex, its repetition allows the love between Christian and Satine to overcome all the obstacles in their way, even death. This pair spend the film fighting for freedom, beauty, truth and love, a battle they win with each repeated viewing of Luhrmann’s modern musical classic.
When thinking of famous Hollywood couples, many people may think of the romances of Taylor and Burton or more recently Brad and Angelina (R.I.P Brangelina). These couples are no strangers to the big screen, often acting opposite one another. However, the silver screen is home to the couple I believe to have the truest romance of them all, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. Both are accomplished actors who made names for themselves on sitcoms. Mullally starred as scene stealer, Karen Walker on Will and Grace, whilst Offerman's breakout role of Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation cemented him as a fan favourite. They have both had guest starring roles on the others shows throughout the years, but it is their real life relationship that is the most romantic of all. Offerman and Mullally met working on a play in 2000. Offerman says there was an instant spark. Mullally was however hesitant to pursue a relationship due to their age difference (she is 11 years his senior). Nick did not give up, eventually the couple could no longer stand being apart and began dating. Nick proposed 18 months later, and the pair married in 2003 during a small secret ceremony at their home. Their guests arrived, believing they were attending a pre-emmys party, but upon arrival they discovered it to be their wedding. They have now been together 17 years, and if their tweets are anything to go by their passion has not depleted. After almost two decades, they continue to adore one another. They even share an email address. If that's not modern love, what is?
On screen, they shared nine feature films together and off they spent 26 years of their lives with one another, it was only death which parted them. Hepburn and Tracy was a legendary relationship of Hollywood’s Golden Age. They were never married and kept the affair private until Tracy’s death in 1967. Tracy was married in 1923 and never divorced his wife but they separated in the 1940s and lived their lives separately until his death. One of the couple’s key films is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, where they played a married couple. The film deals with the issue of inter-racial marriage, in this case between their daughter, Joey (Katharine Houghton) and her fiancé, John (Sidney Poitier) a young doctor. The film is a remarkable testament to the decades old relationship between Hepburn and Tracy. At this stage Tracy’s health was deteriorating and Hepburn had taken a five year break in her career care for him, ending it with this last on screen pairing. When they were cast, she insured that Tracy’s schedule would give him plenty of breaks and days off shooting to manage his well-being. Many assumed he would be unable to complete the shoot. In Tracy’s final soliloquy, he delivers a speech about the eternal nature of love. Hepburn’s character begins to cry, a reaction she claimed was genuine for she knew this would be her partner’s last film and their time together was coming to an end. Tracy completed the shoot but died 17 days later. He never saw the completed feature. Nor did Hepburn, she felt the memories of her life partner would make the viewing too painful for her to endure. Hepburn never sought a marriage proposal from Tracy nor expected him to take divorce action, they were happy to spend their lives together, in private as they did.
Harold is a nineteen-year-old morose obsessed with death. Maude is a joyfully anarchistic seventy-nine-year-old whose enthusiasm for life is electric. They meet at a funeral and their relationship begins. Harold and Maude may a particularly unlikely pairing, but their relationship is tender and believable. Underneath the offbeat dark humour they are simply two people falling in love. The couple move to their own rhythm and chase their own obsessions, discussing life and love and all that’s to come. They dance, sing and swap secrets. They are refreshing to watch. Their romance is emotionally consistent, weaving such a whimsical spell that you can accept the truth in it and root for their happiness. They are serenely untroubled by what others may make of their relationship, despite the considerable age difference. They are only in each other’s lives for a brief few months, but measuring true love by the amount of time you spend in a relationship can be superfluous. Harold and Maude are two people who found each other just when they needed too. Harold’s company gives Maude even more zest for life, while Maude pushes Harold to let go of his inhibitions and embrace the love and beauty around him, “I love you Maude”, “Oh, that’s wonderful Harold! Now…Go and love some more.”