The Romance Genre: Tropes Explained

Romance Film - So The Theory Goes

Simply said, a romance film is one in which the two main characters’ relationship is the story’s driving force. Love at first sight, forbidden love, love triangles, and sacrificial love are just a few of the many themes explored by works in this genre. Films with a romantic plot can have a wide range of emotional tones. Whether the ending is happy or tragic, a Romance film is meant to make the viewer feel something.

The History

It may be said that most films contain motifs from early romantic films because of how influential they were. However, the genre’s essential elements remain strong and include chance meets, intense emotion, and intricate love triangles, despite the genre’s evolution and hybridization with other genres (such as drama and comedy).

Many people found it scandalous to see two people magnified on the screen during an extended kiss. Still, Thomas Edison’s early, 20-second long The May Irwin Kiss (below) was the most popular Edison Vitascope film in 1896 because it recreated a kiss between two famous stage actors from the hit Broadway play The Widow Jones.

Titanic, The Notebook, or even a nice romantic comedy like The Proposal or Never Been Kissed are all excellent options. Even though the movies on this list aren’t as well-known, they nonetheless manage to be romantic and, more importantly, take you somewhere else.

Common Themes in Romance Films

Love at first sight, young (and older) love, unrequited love, obsession, sentimentality, spirituality, forbidden love, sacrificial love, and tragic love are all common themes in romantic films. Watching a romantic film may be a wonderful way to escape reality and indulge in a daydream, especially if the protagonists get together again at the end to seal the deal on their happily ever after by declaring their love and sharing a passionate kiss.

Although love is a buffer against the severity of the actual world, many romantic films do not feature fairy-tale, wistful-thinking plots or happy endings. Melodramas, tearjerkers, and romantic comedies all feature romantic elements, but the comedy or drama is what they’re really going for.

Notable Filmmakers in Romance Genre

Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron received some of the highest critical plaudits ever given to a female film director. Films like Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and Julie & Julia are among her greatest. Some of the most influential romantic films are the ones that feature strong female leads. Not only did she direct, but she also penned When Harry Met Sally and other acclaimed romantic comedies. Ephron, perhaps more than anyone else, grasped the essence of the romantic comedy.

Jon M. Chu

Although he is most known for his feature films, Jon M. Chu got his start in the industry by directing documentaries and television series. However, as of late, Chu has become a major player in the romance genre, with the gorgeous 2018 rom-com Crazy Rich Asians being his most successful film. His films are exceptionally enjoyable to see because of his talent for cutting straight to the story’s emotional core. Since he’s tied to two more sequels of the Crazy Rich Asians franchise and the two-part remake of the classic Broadway musical Wicked, he will have a lot on his plate in the coming years.

Nancy Meyers

It’s no big surprise that Nancy Meyers is on the list, given that she has directed several films that effectively established new subgenres. Meyers has found success across many genres, from the serious holiday romantic comedy The Holiday to the comedic family film The Parent Trap. Her films generally center on middle-aged women, an age group often overlooked in romantic comedies, and she shifts the attention away from the males. Recent work includes a brief sequel to the first two Father of the Bride films.

Richard Curtis

Films like Love Actually, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones’ Diary are some of the many that Richard Curtis has written and contributed to. His direction, on the other hand, is excellent. He helmed the offbeat science fiction romance About Time, an examination of love sure to make you cry. Curtis is a master of romantic storylines told through a uniquely British lens. He has played a significant role in developing some of the most beloved films in history.

Notable Works in Romance Genre

Far and Away (1992)

In Far and Away, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, after their marriage, we follow Joseph and Shannon, two Irish immigrants who strike up an unlikely connection and ultimately relationship while on the road to the United States during the Land Run of 1893.

Tristan & Isolde (2006)

Tristan and Isolde is an epic love story about a Cornish warrior and an Irish princess who fall in love secretly during a conflict between their kingdoms in the Middle Ages and is inspired by a medieval legend. The film’s simplicity has been criticized, but it nevertheless features exquisite cinematography and the dramatic tension of star-crossed lovers. Although the Middle Ages don’t seem like a time for love, James Franco and Sophia Myles do a fantastic job of transporting their audience to the time of their legendary love story.

The Last Letter From Your Lover (2021)

The Last Letter From Your Lover, also adapted from a novel of the same name, follows a journalist who discovers a set of letters written by two lovers who haven’t seen each other since the 1960s and sets out to discover their names and reunite them.

The film, which stars Shailene Woodley and Felicity Jones, is structured similarly to The Notebook but is differentiated by the characters’ deception and eventual separation. Although the film’s Netflix ratings weren’t great, its innovative visual style and compelling premise make it well worth your time.

Romance Subgenres

  • Historical romance
  • Paranormal romance
  • Romantic action
  • Romantic comedy
  • Romantic drama
  • Romantic fantasy
  • Romantic musical
  • Romantic thrill

The term romance film is commonly used to refer to a love story with a strong emotional focus and a warm, caring relationship between the two main characters. Often, their relationship, engagement, and wedding are highlighted. Finding a romantic partner is a central theme in these films.

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