Valentine's Day rom-coms to watch on 14 February

From Nora Ephron's classic Sleepless in Seattle to last year's breakthrough success Rye Lane

Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman
(Image credit: Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo)

Pretty Woman

The only reason this "Cinderella story for sex workers" works, said Caroline Madden on Slashfilm.com, is because of Julia Roberts' "enchanting performance", for which she earned an Oscar nomination. The 1990 movie could have tipped into "misogynistic stereotype" but Roberts gives the character of Vivian "many dimensions". It is no "nuanced exploration of sex work" but is worth watching for Roberts' "star-making performance alone". 

Netflix

Rye Lane

This "hugely enjoyable romp", which unfolds against the unusually sunny backdrop of south London, follows a day-long flirtation that brings to mind Richard Linklater's "Before" films, said Mark Kermode in The Observer. "Rye Lane", which was the toast of Sundance last year, feels genuinely new. It "doesn't demand two A-listers shoulder the entire job of summoning chemistry from a dead-eyed script", said Clarisse Loughrey in The Independent. Instead, two relative newcomers star, bringing to life characters "shipwrecked by post-breakup shame".

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Disney

Sleepless in Seattle

This 30-year-old love story is remarkable in that its lovers share a mere two minutes of screen time. Instead, Annie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Tom Hanks) fall in love with the idea of each other after seven-year-old Jonah calls up a late-night radio show and asks the host to help his widowed father, Sam, find love. When they finally meet atop the Empire State Building in a spine-tingling scene, director and writer Nora Ephron reminds us all that "when you know, you know".

Amazon Prime Video

Groundhog Day

When TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) has the worst day of his life as he covers the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, things can only get better. Except they don't, as when he wakes up, he has to relive the same day over and over. As Phil rights his wrongs and evolves as a character, so does his romance with Rita (Andie MacDowell). This modern fable, made in 1993, gives us the chance to wonder what we'd do differently in love if given the chance.

Netflix

The Princess Bride

If you were an Eighties child, then the phrase "As you wish" will be certain to get your heart racing, thanks to "The Princess Bride". The chemistry is palpable between  "the reluctant damsel" Buttercup (Robin Wright) and "farmboy-turned-pirate" Westley (Cary Elwes). Rob Reiner's classic 1987 rom-com delivers "high fantasy, wry comedy, kick-ass swordfights, canny political commentary and, of course, sigh-inducing true love. (Or rather, twue wuv)," said Jenna Scherer in Rolling Stone Australia.

ITVX

Romeo + Juliet

This Baz Luhrmann 1996 adaptation of the Bard's most famous play follows the Montagues and Capulets' war, set here in Mexico City, and is a "dizzying assemblage of fast cutting and mad camera swirls", said Stephanie Zacharek in Time. The scene where Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes first spy each other through the aquarium is mesmerising. And when Danes realises all is lost, hers is "one of the most naked instances of ugly-crying in the movies", said Zacharek. This is a film "of pure feeling, a flame burning fast and clean".

Disney

The Big Sick

A medically induced coma isn't normally the stuff around which a rom-com revolves but this 2017 movie garnered the writers a best original screenplay Oscar nomination. Based on the real-life romance between star Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, it starts off as a New York love story like any other until Emily (Zoe Kazan) becomes seriously ill. While she is comatose, Kumail tries to gain the trust of his in-laws (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano), while dealing with his own family who want him to have an arranged marriage. 

Amazon Prime Video

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