Now that Memorial day has come and gone, we are in full summer mode. Bring on the barbeques, trips to the beach, white jeans, and summer romance! There’s just something so intoxicating, so bittersweet, so ephemeral about those magical flings that flare up between June and August.
To quote the king of the romantic novel-turned film, Nicholas Sparks, "They are shooting stars—a spectacular moment of light in the heavens, a fleeting glimpse of eternity.”
Who can forget Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta as Sandy and Danny in Grease, singing "Summer Lovin"? Or Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze synchronizing their moves as Johnny and Baby in Dirty Dancing? Or Ryan Gosling as Noah, riding the ferris wheel with Rachel McAdams as Allie, in The Notebook? We swooned right along with all of them.
This season’s upcoming crop of romantic movies may not all necessarily take place in the summer, but we’ll be watching them during those sizzling months, and getting inspired by the sparks that fly between the lovers they portray.
1. STAR CROSSED LOVE: Sam Clafin and Emilia Clarke in Me Before You
Finnick from The Hunger Games in a relationship with Khaleesi from Game of Thrones? Sign us up! In this highly anticipated film based on the popular Y.A. tear-jerker novel, Clafin stars as Will Traynor, a ridiculously handsome jet-set banker turned quadriplegic after a tragic accident. Clarke is his young, quirky, optimistic caretaker, Louisa, aka “Lou” who attempts to make him realize that life is still worth living. With her perennial smile and penchant for mixing colorful polka dots, flowers and stripes, Lou is a breath of fresh air for the moody Traynor, who has been trapped in his wheelchair and cooped up in his family’s castle feeling sorry for himself. A sweet relationship ensues, of course, but there is a heartbreaking twist. Be sure to bring some tissues.
2. JUNGLE LOVE: Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie in The Legend of Tarzan
There’s something inherently hot about the Tarzan mythos—a he-man who swings across vines, yells at the top of his lungs and communes with animals. Even hotter is the idea of him being tamed by a tea-drinking Victorian lady who in turn learns from the feral hunk to be more in touch with her animal instincts. This version of the classic tale takes place many years after Tarzan (Skarsgard) has left Africa and moved to London as John Clayton III, aka Lord Greystoke, to lead a more civilized life with his beautiful wife Jane (Robbie). But when Parliament asks him to serve as a trade emissary, he finds himself back in the Congo and in the middle of a major conspiracy: an evil plot masterminded by a Belgian Captain (Christoph Waltz). The Tarzan-Jane romance isn’t necessarily the focal point of this film, but their attraction, along with Skarsgard’s ripped abs and Robbie’s sullied white dress and soaking wet tresses, are sure to make it sizzle.
3. FORBIDDEN LOVE: Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart in Equals
The chemistry between Nia (Stewart) and Silas (Hoult) gives Twilight’s Bella and Edward a run for their money. This film is set in a dystopian future where everyone wears white, lives in a stark environment called The Collective and is forbidden to feel or express any emotions, or have any physical contact. Such instincts, should they arise, are blocked by pills called inhibitors. Nia and Silas are co-workers who find themselves attracted to each other but unsure of and frightened by what they are feeling. Their mutual admiration is, of course, a huge risk since others who have shown such emotion are viewed as being diseased and taken away to be rehabilitated, or even destroyed. The key here is the intoxicating power of sexual tension between these two, even in the smallest of gestures—two hands almost touching, a lingering gaze—and the requisite subtle performances required when such actions are prohibited. From the same director who brought us Crazy Love.
4. ILLICIT LOVE: Dane DeHaan and Alicia Vikander in Tulip Fever
Set in 17th century Netherlands, Tulip Fever stars recent Oscar winner Vikander as Sofia, a beautiful young wife who has a torrid affair with an artist, Jan Van Loos (Dehaan.) Complicating matters is the fact that her rich husband (Christoph Waltz) is the one who commissioned the artist to paint their portrait. The adulterous young lovers invest in tulips (a huge craze at the time) in an effort to make enough money to run away together. Mayhem ensues, but the forbidden passion between Sofia and Jan is palpable and the scenery stunning. In fact, the entire film evokes a painting.
5. “FIRST” LOVE: Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter in Southside With You
A glimpse into the origins of the First Couple’s romance, this film is a fictionalized account (based on actual events) of how then legal associate Barack Obama (played by the very handsome Sawyers) wooed smart young attorney Michelle Robinson (Sumpter). It all takes place in one day; their first date back in Chicago in the summer of 1989. We get to see the sparks fly as they visit The Art Institute of Chicago, take in the film Do the Right Thing, have lunch, attend a community meeting, and share their first kiss outside an ice cream parlor.