11 of the best British romance films to watch this Valentine's Day
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On the run-up to Valentine's Day, there's nothing quite like curling up on the sofa and watching a romance film.
Here are the best British romance movies to watch this Valentine's Day, and be sure to vote for your favourite in the poll at the bottom of the article!
1. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Jane Austen's most famous novel has had many adaptations, but Joe Wright's 2005 film starring Keira Knightly, aka the queen of British period dramas, and Matthew Macfadyen may be the most beautiful one to grace our screens.
The film utilises some of the best examples of architecture in England, such as Chatsworth House in Derbyshire and gorgeous wild landscapes captured in natural light to complement the budding romance between headstrong Lizzie Bennet and the socially awkward Mr Darcy.
2. About Time (2013)
This charming time travel romance directed by Richard Curtis stars Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy. The film follows Gleeson's protagonist, Tim, as he discovers the men in his family have the power to travel back in time to moments they have lived. Deciding to use this gift to improve his love life, hilarity ensues, and things get a little messy!
Many of the film's scenes were shot in Cornwall, and it's easy to see why as these locations add a certain beauty only this beloved county could offer.
3. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
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From the expletive-ridden sequences of Hugh Grant's protagonist, Charles trying to get to weddings on time to the heartbreaking reading of 'Stop all the clocks' by W.H. Auden at the singular funeral, Four Weddings and a Funeral is delightfully hilarious rom-com that can be watched over and over again and still be just as brilliant as the first watch.
4. The Theory of Everything (2014)
Have your tissues at the ready for this beautiful film based on the life of Stephen Hawking as told in the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by his first wife, Jane Wilde. The performances by Felicity Jones and the chameleonic Eddie Redymane received much praise, with Hawking commenting that he felt like he was actually watching himself on screen in some moments.
Much of the film was shot on location in Cambridge, with a couple of scenes being filmed elsewhere, such as Hampton Court Palace to double up as Buckingham Palace Gardens and Camber Sands in East Sussex.
5. Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Based on Helen Fielding's novel of the same name and taking rather obvious cues from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones's Diary is an often hilarious look at life and love in your thirties. Jones is an everyone woman sort of bumbling through incident after incident and reassuring every female watching that you don't need to have everything in order. Sometimes, magic can happen amidst the imperfect chaos of life.
6. Ammonite (2020)
Ammonite tells the story of palaeontologist and fossil hunter Mary Anning and a speculative relationship that may or may not have bloomed between her and geologist Charlotte Murchison.
As Mary Anning spent most of her life in Lyme Regis in Dorset, production of the film followed suit, and the team at the Lyme Regis Museum were also on hand throughout to advise and even demonstrate how to carefully break open rocks to reveal fossils to Kate Winslet who played the fossil collector.
7. Notting Hill (1999)
An absolute quintessential British romantic comedy, Notting Hill has so many things going for it. A charming cast lead by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, late 90's fashion and some of the most romantic lines said on screen.
Unsurprisingly much of Notting Hill is indeed shot in Notting Hill, but quite a few interiors, including that of the famous The Travel Bookshop, were actually shot at Shepperton Studios in Surrey.
8. Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)
Based on Thomas Hardy's dreamy pastoral novel of the same name, this 2015 adaptation directed by the oscar-winning Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg is a feast for the eyes. Dorset itself has something of a starting role as the charming towns, sweeping landscapes, and dense forestry enrich the story and bring to life Hardy's Wessex.
Some locations include the Jurrasic Coast, several properties in Sherbourne, Forde Abbey House and Gardens, the gorgeous 17th-century Mapperton House, which becomes Everdene Farm, one of the most important locations in the entire film, and the lush ancient woodlands of Hooke Park are utterly enchanting on screen.
9. Emma. (2020)
The most recent adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma is also perhaps the best version put to screen. There's an impeccable cast of actors such as Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn in the title roles and some impeccable comedic turns by Miranda Hart, Bill Nighy and The Crown's Josh O'Connor.
Appearance-wise the film is infused with a pretty pastel colour palette and a buoyant charm making this Jane Austen adaptation unlike any other you've seen before. Aesthetic wise it's almost Wes Anderson-esque but more importantly, photographer turned first time director Autumn de Wilde films the story through the female gaze. There's a softness and a vulnerability to the characters that doesn't ever come through in other Austen adaptations which are almost exclusively directed by men.
10. Yesterday (2019)
A struggling Suffolk musician experiences a freak accident and becomes the only person in the world to remember The Beatles in Danny Boyle's 2019 romantic comedy. Playing out as a riff on alternate realities and being appreciative of what you have, Yesterday at its core is a love story, and it's a rather sweet one.
And something that makes this charming comedy a little more special is that many Suffolk locals got a once in a lifetime chance to be extras on set. Read about their surreal experiences here.
11. Anna Karenina (2012)
Adapting a tome like the sweeping Russian epic Anna Karenina is no small feat but director Joe Wright takes this iconic yet tragic love story to a whole new height by filming it on a stage. Perhaps to act as a metaphor for the artifices of high society and to symbolise that Anna is a woman who has no real autonomy; either way, this unique way of framing the story really stands out.
The famous Shepperton Studios in Surrey was used for most of the film's production, with some external and internal shots taking place in Hampshire's New Forest, Ham House in Surrey, Didcot Railway Centre in Oxfordshire and the Russian countryside.
Now it's time to cast your vote on the best British romance film!