Candy hearts and flowers, boxes of chocolates, poorly read poetry: that’s all the stuff of Valentine’s Day and the month of February.
Of course, another part of the sweetheart celebration is cuddling up with your sigh-worthy squeeze and sharing a romantic flick or two. So let’s see what’s streaming for this month for you discerning couples out there.
The two movies I picked from Netflix aren’t love stories in the Valentine’s Day sense, but love—familial love, sacrificial love, and the love we see between friends—is still definitely in the air. This first recommendation comes with a whole chocolate box full of caveats, but it has some thought-provoking treats in store for adult movie lovers.
The Soloist (PG-13, 2009) Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez is dealing with a variety of problems in his personal and professional life when he meets a homeless man who plays unearthly beautiful music on a broken, two-string violin. The two men get to know each other and soon set off on a journey packed with brokenness, music, and friendship in the face of mental illness.
Plugged In reviewer Adam Holz said of the film: “Its depiction of life on the street (including some harsh profanity and images of drug use and drinking) is raw at times. And families should take full note of that. But it’s from this unexpected source—Lopez describes L.A.’s skid row as a ‘lost colony of broken, helpless souls’—that a life-altering friendship emerges, one in which two very different and differently troubled men find hope, joy and a renewed sense of purpose in each another’s company.”
Little Women (PG-13, 2018) Based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, this film places the four March sisters in a modern era where they dream about the future and support each other with unconditional love. Our reviewer Kristin Smith put it this way: “In the end, the latest version of Little Women once again illustrates the importance of loving one another, of practicing forgiveness and of moving forward despite difficult times. And it teaches us to love our family and friends deeply, striving to help them reach their castles, ‘no matter where they may be.'”
Let’s keep the love flowing with a couple of lovely flicks now streaming on Amazon Prime. The first one in this pair dates all the way back to 1921. You’ve probably heard of this silent film classic but never actually seen it. Well, here’s your chance.
The Kid (1921) This film—starring Charlie Chaplin and child star Jackie Coogan—tells the story of a homeless guy (the Little Tramp) who finds an abandoned baby and lovingly raises him on his own. They become a family. Then agents from an orphanage take steps to take the child away and the makeshift father/son pair have to find a way to stay together.
A Theatre Magazine from the time proclaimed, “[Chaplin’s] new picture, The Kid, certainly outdoes in humor and the special brand of Chaplin pathos anything this popular film star has yet produced. There are almost as many tears as laughs in the new First National release—which proves the contention that Chaplin as almost as good a tragedian as he is a comedian. The Kid may be counted as a screen masterpiece.” Still think a silent movie will just be boring?
Now let’s look at a film that hits a little closer to that romance bullseye.
The Time Traveler’s Wife (PG-13, 2009) Henry DeTamble was 6 years old the night his mother died. Given the fact that he was riding in the backseat of her car, he probably would have died in that explosive accident, too, except that in the milliseconds before impact, he just … faded away. It was at that point, thanks to a “genetic anomaly” in his brain, that Henry first traveled off to another place and time. It saved his life, but it makes his life a lot more complicated from there on. Especially when it comes to love and marriage.
Our reviewer Adam Holz called the film a “complex, heartstring-pulling adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 best-selling novel.” But he also warns potential viewers of a little rough language and some sensual moments of “physical expressions of emotional passion.”
Let’s turn to Hulu for the last two movies on this month’s list. Not only are these pics both romances, they’re both films of faith too.
Old Fashioned (PG-13, 2015) Amber is a free-spirited young woman who is apt to hit the open road whenever things in life demand too much commitment. Clay, on the other hand, is well known for his hard-and-fast biblical perspectives on romance and love. When the two meet, their worldviews clash. Can that lead to an old-fashioned courtship?
This film was intentionally released in theaters on the same weekend as Fifty Shades of Grey to try to serve as counterprogramming or even an antidote to that film’s fiercely unhealthy take on sexual expression. Adam Holz suggested that Old Fashioned adds a layer of realism to its romance that still might preclude younger viewers. However, he also makes it plain that, “The result is a unusual thematic emphasis on purity and self-control coupled with forgiveness and grace … right there in the middle of a grand romance.”
And lastly, here’s another rom-dram with a bit of an edge.
The Song (PG-13, 2014) Singer Jed King has long tried to escape the shadow of his famous dad. But it’s only when he meets and marries the girl of his dreams that he’s able to write a love song that truly shines. It becomes an instant hit. But the temptations of worldly stardom have a corrosive effect.
We can certainly find parallels here to a certain Old Testament book. Or as I said in my review: “It teaches us about the realness of temptation, the lousiness of giving in to it, and the price you pay for ‘chasing after the wind.’ Then it leaves us with the sweet refrain of redemption and new beginning.”