“TAKES MY BREATH AWAY” LOVE FILMS

I’m as drawn to love films as a beautiful and majestic horse is drawn to water. I create so much about and from the notion of love that it sometimes is hard for me to take a decent, deep breath. Here are 10 (actually 11) films about love (or the lack thereof) that “take my breath away” and heal my still-sometimes-very-broken heart (BOTH!):

  1. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998):
Shakespeare in Love - Wikipedia

This would indeed be my all-time favorite love film because it’s got Shakespeare and it’s got that message: “Love is the ONLY inspiration.” This film is inspired by a great and awe-inspiring love for acting, writing, directing, and how passion engages all of these things in one love film. Even if this film was not an ode to why Shakespeare wrote sonnets in the first place, the scene where Viola is onstage in a staged production of Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET and William is lovingly looking at her from the wings is more than enough of a reason why I adore this love film. Viola loves William, William loves Viola, and the music takes us away to just this one moment of two looks and two smiles all looked and smiled in the name of a beautiful, all-encompassing love. That scene alone “takes my breath way” every time I see it. Even though this film is #10 on my all-time favorite films’ list, it is solidly #1 on my all-time favorite love films’ list (I guess you could say, “so the last shall be first, and the first shall be last” [Matthew 20:16]). 😉

2. SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (1973):

Scenes from a Marriage - Wikipedia

Swedish director Ingmar Bergman is not known for gushy and silly love films, but this film IS a very serious love film because Bergman gives us both the glory and grime of a marriage dissolving. In true and typical Bergman fashion, each scene of this film is a very serious “take my breath away,” because the truth and turmoil at the heart of this marriage ending are about as real as my hand in front of my face. Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson as Marianne and Johan give towering performances. I will never forget the scene where Marianne and Johan go to the lawyer’s office to sign the divorce papers and literally get into a fist fight. After the fight (and the marriage) is over, they both with their tattered hair and hearts sign the divorce papers. This film is as stunning as it is sacrificial. Marriage IS sacrifice and when that’s not there, stunning is any marriage’s dissolvement. I probably could have listed a handful of Ingmar Bergman films that explore the theme of this kind of intense love, but I have to keep this list as brief as possible.😉

3. MARRIAGE STORY (2019):

Marriage Story - Wikipedia

Very much like SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE, this film is haunting and often horribly uneasy to sit through. Scarlett Johansson as Nicole and Adam Driver as Charlie give exceptionally riveting performances as a married couple with way too big egos (she is an actress and he is a theatre director and if that’s not “way too big egos,” I don’t know what is). I will never forget the scene where Nicole goes to Charlie’s apartment and they are in the throws of so much anger and so much hurt that the walls of Charlie’s apartment are about to come down. Johansson’s Nicole delivers to Driver’s Charlie the line that is THE line where love hoped to save this marriage and love can’t save this marriage intersect, “You’re so merged with your own selfishness, you don’t even identify it as selfishness anymore!” That line “took my breath away” because I totally identified with it. A marriage on its way to a divorce is all about selfishness unidentified anymore. The proclaimed egos of both partners “win out” and when ego “wins out,” everything is “lost in” a marriage war of two “way too big egos.”

4. THE DANISH GIRL (2015):

Hairdresser at Lilly's maison - The danish girl.

It’s so cool that this film is #4 on this list, as #4 is my spiritual number. It’s also cool that this film is #4 on my all-time favorite films’ list, as well. The story of Gerda and Einar (Lily) Wegener is what love films should always be about: The sacrifice one partner needs to make for a marriage to survive (often times in a marriage, both partners have to make sacrifices). Gerda makes the ultimate sacrifice by accepting that her husband, Einar, believes he is a woman and wants to have an operation to become Lily, the woman he always was on the inside. Anyone else that I can think of in Gerda’s position would have said in response to this, “no way, no how….this marriage is OVER!” Gerda loves Einar so much that she is willing to do just about anything (and she does) to keep their love alive. Alicia Vikander (Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress) is an absolute and complete revelation in her performance as Gerda, and Eddie Redmayne completely and totally seals the deal in his performance in this film to make him my all-time favorite actor next to Joaquin Phoenix. I swear I could go on and on about how this film “takes my breath away” at every twist and turn where love is concerned but, once again, I’m needing to be brief here.😉

5. YENTL (1983):

Yentl (film) - Wikipedia

Very similar to THE DANISH GIRL, this film is not your conventional love film. It’s about a woman who loves this man who thinks a woman is a man, this man who loves another woman who is also a woman but since he can’t have this other woman, the man asks a woman to marry this other woman so he can be close to this other woman, and a woman who this man thinks is a man marries this other woman, and if none of that “takes your breath away,” I’m not sure what ever would! This film “takes my breath away” because it’s simply about the lengths and heights and depths we find ourselves reaching for in the throes (or thrown) of love. And because I am a huge Barbra Streisand fan and this is Barbra’s best film EVER, I can’t think of any other love film that pleases and excites me more than this one. And never mind that it is mainly because of Barbra Streisand and my love for her that helped me to believe that I could ever be someone someday who could love someone someday. Now, that “takes my breath away.”

6. WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966):

Amazon.com: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard  Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis, Agnes Flanagan, Frank Flanagan, Haskell  Wexler, Mike Nichols, Sam O'Steen, Ernest Lehman, Edward Albee, Ernest  Lehman: Movies &

While most in a million years would never call this film a “love film,” I do because it’s a film about the absence of love in a marriage, the absence that is SO common in a lot of marriages, and an absence so penetrable that the married couple in this film actually make up that they have a child to keep the marriage bearable. Edward Albee’s play and Mike Nichols’ film adaptation are what I love most about stories where love has flown the coop (if it was ever in the coop in the first place), i.e., the dissection and probing of the insides of people who are losing their identity because love has become nonexistent while brutality and mean-spiritedness are what’s left to exist. Elizabeth Taylor, known for her striking beauty, goes from “riches to rags” in her physical beauty and gives us an “ugly” Martha, a force of nature who is as forceful as she is vulnerable. Taylor, Best Actress Oscar winner) gives what I consider the very best female performance ever captured on film. Richard Burton as George and George Segal as Nick are also excellent, but it’s the other female performance of Sandy Dennis as Honey (Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner) that makes this love film truly one that “takes my breath away” every time I see it….and I’ve seen it a lot!😉

7. TESS (1980):

Tess (1979 film) - Wikipedia

If there can be any love film that is truly lovely to look it, it would be this film. Based on Thomas Hardy’s classic novel of the same name, Roman Polanski directed this film that makes the novel come breathtakingly and beautifully alive. This film “takes my breath away” not just because it’s pretty to look at but also because it is rapturous and daring to expose seduction between a man and a woman as actually rape, and how that one act of domination produces shame that stays with the victim. I know that one’s shame is to be nailed to The Cross of Jesus but for some, death is the one way, and maybe the only way, to be rid of that shame. Nastassja Kinski as Tess might not be the best actress who ever lived, but Polanksi knew exactly what he was doing by casting her in the title role. Because Kinski was a relative unknown and maybe because Polanski knew she wasn’t the greatest actress around, it was precisely these two very things that allowed Kinski to inhabit Tess as bright-eyed innocent, and naïve. A well-known and a great actress would have destroyed these precious traits, so thank God Polanski and Kinski didn’t. There’s one scene of a closeup of Tess with the brightest yellow sun behind her that to this day, every time I see a sun like that, it “takes my breath away,” and I call it, “the Tess sun.” LOVE THAT! ❤️

8. THE WAY WE WERE (1973):

The Way We Were #VHS Tape NWOT #BarbaraStreisand #RobertRedford Vintage  #Drama. | Romantic drama film, Indie movies, Love movie

It certainly makes sense that I would have two Barbra Streisand films on this list but even if I didn’t love Streisand, this film would be on it anyway and probably most others’ “love film” list. It’s the ultimate love story of the girl over there and the guy over here and how there and here come together and we are all the better for being present to witness that. The odds are that two beautiful actors like Redford and Streisand couldn’t possibly go wrong in a beautiful love film that ends with a closing scene that still “takes my breath away.” Streisand’s Katie and Redford’s Hubbell are looking at each other after having separated when famous Streisand takes that famous hand and famously brushes away that famous hair from Redford’s famous face. “See ya’, Katie.” “See ya’ Hubbell.” See me balling my eyes out.😥😥

9. CASABLANCA (1942):

Casablanca (film) - Wikipedia

While not the film I would have included on my “take my breath away” love films’ list, I’m including it because it’s on the top of the list for two of my favorite people and because any film with an actor or actress with the last name of “Bergman” should be on any film list I compile (see #2 for that “other Bergman” film). That said, I have seen this film and I remember loving it very much. Many “love film” aficionado’s are divided into two camps where this film’s ending is concerned: One group wants Rick to let Ilsa board that plane to Lisbon with Laszlo for The Resistance, while the other group says, “C’mon! Rick and Ilsa forever! We’re not talking about The Resistance here! We’re talking about love!” This film reminds us that love doesn’t always end as victorious as The Resistance, but what we cannot “resist” is that we loved in the first place. That is usually enough for any kind of love to take flight.

10. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) and SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980):

It Happened One Night (1934) - IMDb
Somewhere in Time (film) - Wikipedia

I admit I was torn between which of these films to include to round out the top 10 “take my breath away” love films, until it dawned on me that both films have something very much in common: The element of time when and where love is lost and/or found. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is simple enough to say love can happen one night, whereas SOMEWHERE IN TIME says one night is fine, but true love cannot be contained by the element of time. Love can happen one night, sure, and then more nights can happen after that, but sometimes you have to go “somewhere in time” to find that love again. Whether one night or “somewhere in time,” love alters us to our very core and we do search time and space to find it, but there are no guarantees that the Jericho Walls (reference to the ending of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT) will stay up or come down when love happens in just one night or “somewhere” outside of space and time for a lifetime.

Now, I’m not currently in a love relationship (unless you count Jesus) but if I were, my partner would need to have seen AT LEAST one of these films. If not, watching AT LEAST one of these films is essential if any partner who loves me expects to “take my breath away.” 😉❤️

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