Celebrate Valentine’s Day with one of these romantic films
Romance and the movies go together like Harry and Sally, Rose and Jack and Baby and Johnny. But did you know that some of the silver screen’s most swoon-some films have been made with the help of funding from The National Lottery? Here’s a list of nine BFI National Lottery-funded features for you to enjoy on Valentine’s Day (or any other day of the year where a little romance is required).
Rye Lane (2023)
Raine Allen-Miller makes her debut as a director with this heart-warming rom-com set in South London.
David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah star as a couple of recently dumped singles who have a chance encounter in Rye Lane Market. There’s an instant connection, but the course of true love never did run smooth (thanks Shakespeare) so we’re never quite sure if our young heroes will seal the deal.
Pretty Red Dress (2022)
The dress in question costs £279 and it changes the lives of a London family in ways they could not have predicted.
Candice (X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke) is about to audition for a life-changing role as Tina Turner in a stage musical. But her life isn’t straightforward. Husband Travis (Natey Jones) has just got out of prison and daughter Kenisha (Temilola Olatunbosun) is struggling at school.
There’s “warmth, humour, sadness and tenderness in this big-hearted feature debut from writer-director Dionne Edwards,” wrote The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw.
Boxing Day (2021)
Fans of Richard Curtis’ rom-coms will find much to love in this film co-written, directed and starring Aml Ameen (Kidulthood, Yardie).
It starts with a proposal as Melvin (Ameen) – a British author living in Los Angeles – surprises his American girlfriend Lisa (Aja Naomi King) with a ring. The couple return to the UK to meet his family, where a glamorous ex-girlfriend (Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock) is just one of the hurdles they have to overcome if the knot is to be tied.
Ali and Ava (2021)
It’s the “pitch perfect” performances by Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar that make writer-director Clio Barnard’s (The Arbor, The Selfish Giant) romantic drama so compelling.
Set on a tough Bradford housing estate, the film stars Akhtar as Ali, a puppyish British Asian from a well-off family. His day job is collecting rent for his family, but he secretly wants to be a DJ. Rushbrook’s Ava is a recently widowed mother who pours her love into her kids, but yearns for an adult connection.
The Los Angeles Times called the film a “winning, beautifully acted interracial love story.”
Been So Long (2018)
This contemporary romantic musical set in Camden, north London, stars Michaela Coel from TV’s I May Destroy You. Coel plays single mum Simone who falls for Raymond (Arinze Kene), a tough guy who’s just left prison.
Critics praised the chemistry between Coel and Kene and the movie manages to juggle the harsh realities of urban life with some heart-stopping romance.
Directed by Andy Serkis (yes, Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies), Breathe is a film about the kind of love that endures and overcomes hardship.
Breathe has a star-packed cast headed by Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy and is based on a true story about a man (Garfield) who is paralysed by polio in Africa in 1958. His wife (Foy) brings him home to the UK where her “devotion and witty determination” transcend his disability. You’ll need an extra packet of tissues for this one.
God’s Own Country (2017)
You can understand why director Francis Lee’s debut feature earned comparisons to Oscar-winner Brokeback Mountain.
The tale of two workers on a farm in Yorkshire who form an unexpected bond during lambing season is captivating and broodingly beautiful. Josh O’Connor (seen more recently as Prince Charles in The Crown) plays the local lad, while Alec Secareanu is the Romanian migrant worker who captures his heart.
A United Kingdom (2016)
Amma Asante’s romantic drama is based on a true story: the lives of Seretse Khama, the King of Botswana and his wife Ruth Williams, a London office worker.
Their union, in 1947, was wildly controversial and opposed by both the British government and neighbouring South Africa, where the policy of apartheid had recently been introduced. But Seretse (played by David Oyelowo) and Ruth (Rosamund Pike) never wavered in their devotion to each other and their fierce determination to improve the lives of Botswana’s people.
Sunshine on Leith (2013)
A romantic musical based on the songs of Scottish identical twins The Proclaimers? Yes, it’s a daring idea, but director Dexter Fletcher turns it into a joyous affair.
The plot involves two young soldiers who are discharged after a tour of Afghanistan and return home to Edinburgh to start life as civilians. Ally (Kevin Guthrie) already has a girlfriend called Liz (Freya Mavor), while best mate Davy falls for Liz’s English friend Yvonne (Antonia Thomas).
The film’s climax – to the tune of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – is movie romance at its finest.
12th February 2024
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