In the era of big-budget films, franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe usually steal all the focus away from moviegoers. However, there are smaller movies made with a lot of heart that deserve focus. The romance genre, in particular, has many new releases each year, which can cause a lot of movies to be overlooked.
Even with the presence of high-profile actors, some romantic movies have either been forgotten or were never highlighted, to the point where contemporary viewers have no idea of their existence. There are certain films that deserve credit and an audience, especially since the romance aspect within them ranges from comedy, drama, science fiction, and adventure.
Till We Meet Again (2015) – Stream On Hoopla
This romantic adventure drama centers around the topic of independence and codependency in a couple. Erik (Johan Matton) and Linnea (Joanna) travel to Thailand to salvage their relationship but are separated. During this time, the formerly clingy Erik begins to appreciate his self-worth, while Linnea realizes she needs Erik’s love after all.
Directed by Thai filmmaker Bank Tangjaitrong, the movie went under the radar as an independent effort. However, there’s a genuine story about the dangers of overdependency and the comfort found in the company of friends and visiting new places. The love story aspect is deconstructed to show how people interpret relationships in their own ways.
Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) – Stream On Hulu
An interesting take on the rom-com genre, Kissing Jessica Stein is about the titular character (played by Jennifer Westfeldt), who starts dating Heather (Helen Cooper), having never been in a same-sex relationship before. Jessica becomes a more confident and happier person, but the conflict comes from her doubts over if she likes Heather better as a friend than a romantic partner.
LGBTQ+ movies were rarer at the time of Kissing Jessica Stein’s release, and it’s still not as well-known due to popular contemporary movies gaining more notice. The film does a great job depicting the difference between the protagonist’s feelings and attraction for her love interest, and there’s some good comedy to be found hee, as well.
In The Mood For Love (2000) – Stream On HBO Max
Although In the Mood for Love received massive critical praise and awards at the time of its release, it didn’t make waves with worldwide audiences because streaming services weren’t available back then. Tony Leung’s appearance in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has brought him a bigger fan following, so it’s worth watching one of his best works.
The movie is a tragic romance about Chow Mo-wan and Su Li-Zhen (Maggie Cheung), who discover their spouses are having an affair with each other. The pair strike up a friendship and their own feelings begin to grow, which severely impacts how they will continue on in their lives.
Celeste And Jesse Forever (2012) – Stream On Starz
Celeste and Jesse Forever isn’t usually mentioned in the best movies starring Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg, mainly because the pair were better known as supporting actors at the time. Samberg proved himself as a leading actor with Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Jones with Angie Tribeca, but fans should know about this romantic comedy-drama, as well.
The movie is about the titular characters during their divorce proceedings, where Celeste realizes her decision to leave Jesse was impulsive. However, with Jesse moving on but remaining friends with Celeste, the pair’s strangely close connection brings up the possibility of a reconciliation.
Medicine For Melancholy (2008) – Stream On AMC+
Medicine for Melancholy was director Barry Jenkins’ first independently released movie before big hits like Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk. As a result, not many know of its existence, and it’s a shame since it combines its romantic drama with commentary about societal pressures.
The movie is about Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Jo (Tracey Heggins), who spend a day together after a one-night stand. Their conversations range from their attraction to each other to how Jo’s views differ from Micah’s over the pressures faced by young Black people. Through it all, the pair realize there’s more here than just a one-off dalliance.
Results (2015) – Stream On Netflix
One of Cobie Smulders’ first projects outside of work on How I Met Your Mother after the sitcom ended, Results is an indie rom-com that also stars Guy Pearce. The story is about Trevor and Kat, two gym trainers with a romantic history who must confront their feelings when socially awkward newcomer Danny (Kevin Corrigan) forces them to do so.
Since the actors are largely known for high-profile work, this smaller movie doesn’t usually get mentioned. Still, it’s charming and funny, thanks largely due to the chemistry of the cast. Trevor and Kat’s differing personalities work very well in the unorthodox backdrop of a gym center.
Ruby Sparks (2012) – Stream On iTunes
Paul Dano has been receiving greater attention after being part of the cast of the big-budget movie, The Batman, but the actor already has some underrated gems in his filmography. Alongside Zoe Kazan, Dano stars in this romantic comedy-drama about a young novelist. Calvin whose fictional character, Ruby, comes to life.
Calvin’s subsequent love for Ruby and her own need to explore the world beyond being with Calvin serves as the main hook for the story. Although funny in parts, Ruby Sparks also has a mature outlook for people constructing ideas about love and how they can never work in real life.
The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things (2021) – Stream On Amazon Prime Video
Although a relatively new film, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things was overshadowed by Palm Springs because the two have a similar premise. The story is about Mark (Kyle Allen), a young man stuck in a time loop, who learns Margaret (Kathryn Newton) is in the same predicament and the two try to figure out how they can be free.
Unlike Palm Springs, this movie has more of a dramatic take on romance, with Mark falling in love with Margaret but realizing she holds a dark secret that’s keeping the time loop intact. It’s an overall heartfelt movie that shows how easy it can be to move on for a person when they have the right person with them.
I Carry You With Me (2021) – Stream On Starz
Set across years and in different countries, I Carry You with Me is a romantic drama that shows the difficulties in love when people’s lives are completely uprooted. Young chef Ivan (Armando Espitia) and teacher Gerardo (Christian Vázquez) are lovers who move to New York so they can be together but face difficulties adjusting to this new environment.
It deliberately keeps a slow pace so that viewers can understand how the characters’ lives are at a standstill that they hope to overcome. It also looks into the perseverance of love through many challenges. The movie received critical praise – particularly for Heidi Ewing, one of 2021’s best female directors, but its release during the COVID-19 pandemic and independent background didn’t enable as many viewers to learn about I Carry You with Me as it should have.
Premature (2019) – Stream On Hulu
Set across a summer, Premature details the fast-moving romance between Ayanna (Zora Howard) and Isaiah (Joshua Boone), who face the challenge of a large age gap and the consequences of it. Premature is a romantic drama, but it takes a realistic approach over how the pair’s love story is perceived.
It offers viewpoints from the young and idealistic Ayanna, who learns that heartbreak is very real, while the older Isaiah realizes he has to be responsible for steering Ayanna’s decisions. The movie didn’t make a dent at the box office due to the independent-style storytelling, although streaming fans should check it out to appreciate the mature themes found here.
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