By G.G. Andrew
It’s a little over a week until Valentine’s Day, and the time is ripe to queue up some romance movies. You’re in luck: there are hundreds of love stories to stream.
But sometimes you want to watch something that’s a bit more racy, a touch more taboo…
I got your back. Here’s a list of four of the most tantalizing films on Netflix of people falling in love with someone who’s forbidden by their family, society, or marital vows. There’s something for everyone here: these films are set all over the world and throughout time, and they have different steam settings–from the repressed to the ultra-hot.
A Royal Affair (2012)
If you like your taboo dressed up in period clothing, A Royal Affair is the forbidden romance you’re after. Set in Europe in the late 18th century, it tells the story of Caroline (Alicia Vikander), an English woman who marries the king of Denmark–whom she soon realizes is mentally unstable. To deal with the king’s erratic behavior, the court hires a German doctor, Johann (Mads Mikkelsen), to be his healer and confidant. Gradually, the doctor and Queen Caroline are drawn to each other, against all good sense. The romance here is a slow burn, and much of the couple’s attraction is intellectual, as they’re kindred spirits as book lovers and supporters of the Enlightenment. But once their passion catches fire, it burns as hot as any candle. Along with gorgeous sets, A Royal Affair features some of the most well-developed, three-dimensional characters and relationships I’ve seen in a movie.
I Am Love (2009)
Possibly the most lush film on this list, I Am Love is the tale of Emma Recchi (Tilda Swinton), a Russian married into a prominent Italian family. When she meets her son’s chef friend, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), she quickly falls into a love affair with his food–and eventually with him. Set in Milan, this May/December film is beautiful and sensual, especially with its many scenes involving cooking (not to mention Emma and Antonio making love in the mountains). The many closeups of Antonio focusing on his hands, as he cooks or touches Emma, are especially great. So much of the movie is intense and melodramatic, but it suits the setting so well. Watch it when you’re in the mood for drama, or at least Italian scenery. Plus: food porn.
Like Water for Chocolate (1992)
Based on Laura Esquivel’s novel, Like Water for Chocolate is a charming little film that feels almost like a fairy tale. In late 19th century Mexico, Pedro (Marco Leonardi) asks for the hand of the young Tita (Luma Cavazos), but is rejected by her mother, who upholds a tradition that the youngest daughter of each family must care for her mother. Instead, Tita’s mother suggests Pedro marry Tita’s sister, and he agrees–if only to be closer to Tita. What follows is Tita’s journey as she watches the man she loves marry her sister, and she’s denied the passion she craves under her abusive mother’s watchful eye. This film plays with magical realism: as Tita grieves, the food she cooks imparts her emotions, leading to some interesting results for her family. And there are ghosts. And a sister who runs away naked on horseback. If you haven’t seen this one yet, queue it up ASAP.
Take this Waltz (2011)
Set in Toronto, Take this Waltz stars Michelle Williams as Margo, a writer living with her husband of five years, Lou (Seth Rogen). Despite her loving marriage, when Margo meets Daniel (Luke Kirby), she’s attracted to him and finds herself falling for him, even with many attempts to hold herself at arm’s length. Margo is a very realistic and relatable heroine in this film, as we see her care for her friends and family and struggle within her marriage. The movie also sizzles with sexual tension, as Margo tries to keep herself from entering into an affair that seems inevitable. There’s a scene at a restaurant where Margo asks Daniel what he’d do to her if he could, and his answer is one of the hottest, sweetest pieces of dialogue in romantic movies (and lasts at least a couple minutes). The film, though, is complex, and the ending is one of those surprising conclusions that cast the whole movie in a different light. Watch it when you like your steam paired with a great conversation starter.
G.G. Andrew writes quirky romantic comedy–stories about people who fall in love with the most unlikely person, and stumble through some awkward conversations, mistaken identities, and ill-advised kisses along the way. Her latest book is GRAFFITI IN LOVE, a romance between an infamous British graffiti artist and the American woman who hates him.
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