B R I E F   S Y N O P S I S
Unexpected romance comes to a Portuguese-American family in New Bedford, MA, where old traditions are in conflict with modern views. Celia (Sofia Milos), a beautiful and talented Fado singer and single mother, juggles life with her willful teenage daughter (Emmy Rossum) and her meddling mother-in-law (Lupe Ontiveros). She has everything under control until a sexy, wandering stranger (Jason Isaacs) falls in love with her, forcing Celia to decide if the wrong man may also be the right one. Theresa Russel and Seymour Cassel also star. Directed by Dan Ireland (The Whole Wide World).
  Fool For Love
   
 

A few years ago over dinner with a group of friends, one of them asked me what were my all time favorite incurably romantic films. After thinking for a few seconds, off the top of my head, I rattled off five of them before being brought to an abrupt halt. My friend insisted that I had not heard him correctly, he had said incurably romantic films, not deeply depressing fatalistic dramas. Before I could defend my choices, he turned to the rest of the guests and said, "Of course, he made The Whole Wide World." Ouch. Everyone at the table laughed then went on to list their favorite bon-bons (I need not mention them by name).

Having always prided myself on being an obsessive, compulsive, cinematic romantic, I went home and obsessively, compulsively surveyed my all-format archives of romantic movies and found the five I mentioned.

I decided to watch them again and see if I was living in a delusional, fatalistic romantic dream.

The following list contains, in order, my favorites, and reasons why.

ROOM AT THE TOP When it comes to passion and romance, Jack Clayton's film is like no other. Simone Signoret won the Oscar® for Best Actress for her astonishing, heartfelt performance as an older but beautiful Frenchwoman to Laurence Harvey's ambitious middle class Englishman. He has his sights on his boss' airhead daughter but gets sidetracked when he encounters La Signoret. Their moments together are pure unadulterated passion, but in the end love loses out to ambition. Sadly, one dies, one is left miserable.

CHINATOWN Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway sizzle in this tale of greed, power, betrayal, murder and incest. He as the hard-boiled detective who is lured into investigating her husband's strange death, and she, the mysterious, enigmatic, damaged beauty who's not telling the truth about anything—sister, daughter, or both? Of course they fall in love, but by the time they realize it, it's too late—but not for us. Roman Polanski's best film. Again, one dies, one is left miserable.

TWO FOR THE ROAD As a portrait of marriage this film is second to none. Starring the fabulous Audrey Hepburn, more stunning than ever, in love with the stodgy, yet handsome Albert Finney, in his best performance. Set in exotic locations all around Europe to the tune of Henry Mancini's exquisite score, this is director Stanley Donen's most personal film. A love story ending with the lovers calling one another bitch and bastard places it beyond the standard fluff fare. No one dies.

McCABE & MRS. MILLER An ambiguous drifter, Warren Beatty, and an ambitious hooker/madame, Julie Christie, come together to turn tricks and a profit in a new Northwest mining town. He eventually makes enough money to afford Christie; like any self-respecting hooker, she ain't giving it away—after all she has an opium habit to support. Like the viewer, she is lost in an opium dream. Robert Altman's meditation on the Western is really a dreamy, tragic love story in disguise. One dies, one gets high.

BRIEF ENCOUNTER David Lean's jewel of a film from Noel Coward's play/screenplay about the relationship between two married people (not to each other) who meet in a railway station while waiting for their respective trains. A film of dignity and restraint, but filled with passion and longing. Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard are sublime as the lovers. Rarely do you see actors convey such deep emotions as these two—the look of love is so unmistakable when they gaze at each other that one would think it's more than just good acting. Heartbreaking and great. No one dies, but both are left miserable.

Okay, I admit most of the 'romances' I am attracted to (on screen) involve sacrifice, and maybe, sometimes, they don't end happily ever after. But, in reality what romances ever do?

I decided that it was time to be less cynical and take a different outlook on the subject (cinematically). My latest film, Passionada, celebrates love between the wrong man and the right woman. And, even though I struggled with it, no one dies this time... and neither is left miserable. Maybe I'm getting older, maybe I'm getting wiser, but anyway you look at it, I'm still a fool for love.

   

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