Header images courtesy of Treehouse Pictures
Originally published by Sarah Moran. Last updated by Catharina Cheung.
If you’ve ever laid in bed sobbing from movie-induced heartbreak or walked around with a goofy smile plastered over your face because of a film you watched, then you’ll know that romantic films have a special way of reducing people into a puddle of feelings.
Love them or hate them, you have to admit that rom-coms make you root for the characters involved and leave you feeling like you’re going on a first date with yourself. If you’re ready to embrace the love this Valentine’s Day, here are our top picks to catch on Netflix Hong Kong that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
The first feature film to be produced entirely during Covid-19, the highly awaited Malcolm & Marie (starring Tenet’s John David Washington and the beautiful Zendaya) is set over a single night. A filmmaker and his girlfriend return home after his movie premiere, and as they await critical reviews to come in, the couple end up dissecting their entire relationship. Revelations about their relationship begin to rise to the surface as both romantic and artistic tensions unfold. Director Sam Levinson has created in this compelling black and white film an ode to the classic Hollywood romances of old.
You would have thought that the internet’s favourite fictional couple can be nothing less than perfect together, but no, in the third and final instalment of the To All the Boys movie franchise, Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky once again have to fight to stay together. The nemesis this time is their high school graduation and the pair’s increasingly different plans regarding college. Will the third time be the charm that spells a happily ever after for Covinsky?
Director Ryan Murphy brought us cultural resets in Glee and AHS, so it’s fair to say we can expect great things from The Prom as well—and with a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Kerry Washington, and Keegan-Michael Key, no less! Emma, a lesbian girl in small town Indiana, is met with opposition on all sides when she plans to bring her girlfriend to the prom. A group of Broadway performers find out about the story and head to her aid, disrupting everything that the townspeople believe in. Fans of the original Broadway musical will be glad to know that, yes, the musical numbers are in there!
Title character Alex Truelove is skittishly determined to lose his virginity to his girlfriend but hits it off with (and accidentally chats up) Elliot, a gay indie kid who stirs up a maelstrom of confusion and longing. This quippy post-millennial grab bag of identity politics hits a tender note regarding the navigating of social environments, and Madeline Weinstein is great as Alex’s girlfriend Claire. We are still waiting for old-school conservatism to die its slow death in the representation of teen gay romance, but Alex Strangelove is nevertheless is another step in the right direction.
Two hapless assistants to high-powered and highly-strung bosses team up to hook both their superiors up with each other—the idea is that their bosses will be too busy getting it on to work them to the bone. Naturally, all the sneaky planning and plot hatching slowly ends up drawing them closer to each other. Nobody’s accusing this rom-com of being wildly original, but it does provide some much-needed brevity, plus it’s always great to watch Lucy Liu on-screen!
This Polish movie tackles love as seen by a serial womaniser. Adrianna Chlebicka plays a woman who leads a double life: she is a school teacher who also moonlights as a model to pay off her father’s debts. Her model persona catches the attention of a celebrity journalist when working together—he flirts and she plays along for the sake of one last gig. When she connects with him “in real life” too, will sparks fly for her true identity, or will the renowned playboy prefer the glamorous model instead?
Turning the trope of budding romance on its head, Someone Great begins at the end of a relationship instead. Jenny (played by Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin fame) scores her dream job in San Francisco but her boyfriend decides not to move with her. As she understandably spirals into a depressive mood, her two best friends work to make her memories prior to leaving New York good ones. Make this Valentine’s an introspectively funny one as Jenny balances the good memories of her romance with love for herself and hopes for the future.
It’s great to see more romance movies that strive to break free from the genre’s prescribed boxes. On top of writing and directing the film, James Sweeney also plays lead character Todd, a brainy, unassuming kid with OCD who has always been pigeonholed as gay. Unable to form fulfilling romantic or sexual relationships, he starts to question his homosexuality and connects with Rory (Katie Findlay) over their mutual love of Gilmore Girls. Thumbs up at the covert nod to Amy Sherman-Palladino’s work with Todd and Rory’s motor-mouth quipping aside, we also love Straight Up for its dip into the asexual, graysexual, and demisexual part of the spectrum, and for proclaiming that there is a connection that’s better than sex.