It’s amazing how long it’s taken for movies about love’s painful beginnings and and endings to make a resurgence. But today we were heartened by the LA Times story announcing that Paramount has locked onto the under-exploited appeal of straight-up romance (minus the meet-cute rom-com formulas), by snatching up the rights to Emily Hainsworth‘s yet-to-be-published tragic first love romance, Through To You, for the filmmakers behind the beloved Sundance long distance relationship drama,“Like Crazy.” And judging by Through to You’s achy-breaky synopsis — a bereaved high school student who discovers a parallel universe inhabited by recently deceased girlfriend — it’s just the kind of material that promises to make the more sensitive sectors of the moviegoing public swoon.
All we can say is: It’s about time. Lately, we’ve had the urge to shake Hollywood’s power-players until they understand that the success of “Twilight” (and most any other trans-generational teen sensation) has little to do with metaphysical gimmicks like vampires, so they can stop searching for the next big monster sensation due to sweep the nation. (Sorry, zombies.) And as “Red Riding Hood” continues to prove at the box office and otherwise: Sex, danger, and archetypal storytelling is not a sure-fire equation for capturing the imagination of the Youth Nation.
So what is? Well, at the risk of sounding reductive, there is one key ingredient that studios seem to have overlooked: It’s about the love story, Stupid! Fortunately, it seems that filmmakers are finally catching on to what drives teens (and their moms) to the theaters in droves: The ache of budding romance. Ask any of the Twi-hards what keeps them shackled to their computers until the wee hours trolling for any tidbit about K-Patz or Stephenie Meyer‘s next move and they’ll tell you: Reading about Bella and Edward recreates the time-stopping urgency of yearning. And though “Like Crazy” is cut from more naturalistic (dare we say nuanced) cloth, its story of soul mates (Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones) stranded on separate sides of the Atlantic, the essence of the film’s appeal is in the way it recreates the torment and excitement of long distance loving. Likewise “Blue Valentine” conjures the pain missed connection and unfulfilled potential by contrasting the beginning and end of a mismatched couple (Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling).
There is a plenty of stormy romance in the forecast for the coming months. Director Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is currently in theaters, generating a critical and commercial head of steam. Then “Submarine,” due out in June, kicks off a summer of love with its wistful look a young couple cracking under the strains of the doltish adults in their orbit. Next up is “Homework” a tale of a thoughtful prep school flunkey obsessed with a callow, oblivious beauty queen. We’re especially looking forward Joe Wright‘s adaptation of the ultimate doomed romance, Anna Karenina, about a woman who abandons a comfortable marriage to a decent fellow to pursue an infatuation with a charismatic and unreliable rogue. And finally, we’re dying to see what visionary director Terence Malick does with his upcoming untitled romance starring Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams about which he’ll reveal no more than this: “It’s a powerful and moving love story.”
We’re in. How about you? What other non-comedic romances rank high on your must see list? And which literary love stories has Hollywood overlooked?