Five movies that get dating wrong
Hollywood has a long and proud history of peddling clichés about romance.
On top of the fact that not many couples in blockbuster films are particularly diverse, lots of us will have rolled our eyes at an endless kiss under the pouring rain or a cheesy, over-the-top declaration of love - perhaps when feeling particularly cynical or heartbroken.
The industry is starting to get somewhat self-aware (see: Rebel Wilson’s Isn’t It Romantic), but that doesn’t stop script writers and directors from continuing to portray a fairy-tale version of love and dating.
With Seth Rogen’s new film Long Shot in the cinemas right now, we thought we’d take a look at some of the worst offenders.
Notting Hill (1999) - The meet-cute
In classic British rom-com Notting Hill a bookshop-owner (Hugh Grant) meets a Hollywood megastar (played by Julia Roberts) by chance when he accidentally spills his drink over her. They get talking and an unlikely romance blossoms.
It’s a perfect example of what Hollywood screenwriters call the “meet-cute”. It’s that moment in a love story when the two protagonists first encounter each other in a particularly memorable, eccentric way.
But even though it’s a lot less sweet (and costs less at the dry cleaners), most people don’t find their partners in such unconventional ways. Being introduced by friends, using dating apps or websites or meeting places like the gym or at work or school are far more common. Not nearly as cute maybe, but much more realistic.
Brokeback Mountain (2005) - Love conquers all
True love conquers all! Or at least it seems to in the movies. For instance, in Ang Lee’s film adaptation of Annie Proulx’s story Brokeback Mountain, cowboys Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) defy the conventions of intolerant 1960s America and pursue a gay love affair that lasts for years.
But in fact, being deeply in love isn’t always a guarantee of a successful, enduring, relationship. Sometimes even the most loved-up couple can’t make a go of it over the long term. Cultural differences, geographical distance or financial difficulties are all realities that mean some relationships are destined to fail. Out here in the real world, love can overcome a lot of obstacles but, sadly, it doesn’t conquer all. Sniff.
Titanic (1997) - Love at first sight
We’ve all seen that moment at the start of a love story where eyes meet across a crowded room and bam . . . it’s love at first sight. Take Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) in James Cameron’s seaborne epic Titanic. When Jack – a poor stowaway on the lower decks – first lays eyes on rich-girl Rose, his dreamy look lets us know that he’s already hopelessly smitten.
But do people really fall in love at first sight? Actually, probably not so often. People are often strongly attracted to each other, but generally love takes time to develop. After all, how can you be in love with someone you don’t really know?
Elizabethtown (2005) - The manic pixie dream girl
In romantic movie Elizabethtown Kirsten Dunst plays Claire, a flight attendant who arrives in Drew’s (Orlando Bloom) life just as everything seems to be going wrong for him. Luckily though, she seems to have all the answers.
She’s an example of a character in a romance who solves all the other partner’s problems, seemingly in one fell swoop. “Manic pixie dream girl” is the term some unimpressed critics have invented for them, though it can refer to men too. They crop up everywhere, from Natalie Portman in Garden State (2004) to Jeanne Moreau in Francois Truffaut’s French classic Jules et Jim (1962).
In reality, though, no one person is going to solve all of your problems at once. The perfect boyfriend or girlfriend unfortunately only exists in the movies.
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) - Opposites attract
When Han Solo and Princess Leia first meet in George Lucas’s Star Wars they seem an ill-suited couple. After all, he’s a carefree, rough-around-the-edges space adventurer, whilst she’s spiky, serious and an intergalactic princess to boot. But, over the course of the movies, they become one of the great romantic pairings of cinema history.
But do opposites really attract? In fact recent research indicates that Han and Leia beat the odds by becoming a couple. Romantic relationships are more likely to be successful between couples who have a lot in common than those with very little.
Of course all kinds of couples make a go of it. But those who share lots of interests and ideas do seem to have a bit of an advantage to those who are completely different from each other like Han and Leia.