The 15 Most Underrated Romance Films of the 1990s
Romance, ironically, doesn’t get a lot of love when it comes to highbrow literary critics. But that’s the world of prose. On the silver screen, romance has always reigned supreme. Ever since the earliest days of film, romance has captivated film viewers, catapulting them into a world of magic, where the suspense of relationships and all the foible’s love is prey to are writ large upon the screen.
Of course, regardless of what any literary critic thinks, romance is one of the most popular genres beyond the film screen as well. This has always made sense to me, since romance is, at its core, a study of the relationships we all find ourselves taking part in throughout our lives, as well as a way of playing out the dream of that perfect outcome, where love and circumstance align. There’s a majesty, a beautiful brilliance, in the depiction of love unfolding through a well-told tale.
And yet, as with all genres, film captures something of the essence of the romance narrative and makes it larger-than-life, highlighting a world that can at once be entered by the viewer whilst remaining forever slightly out of our reach. In a sense, that’s lovely, because it gives us something to strive for. Film also provides a template, in our deeply repressed societies, for how to form emotional connections, deal with trauma, and overcome differences in communication. Without romance depicted through film, we might become so defective in terms of our relationships that we’d simply stop having them altogether!
But, what makes a great romance film? What turns a film from something ordinary, into something grand? We all know the famous “greats” of the genre, but how many hidden gems lay beneath the average viewer's notice, waiting to be rediscovered… waiting to change lives? Quite a few, as it so happens, and these I’ve included here.
The Netflix age
Once upon a time, Netflix’s DVD library hosted well over 100,000 titles and sent out roughly 12 million DVDs per week. Now, with the advent of easy-to-use streaming services, the amount of content viewers have available has shrunk to the low thousands. Look up any list of “films to watch” and you’ll find a tiny selection of movies, usually curated by people all reading the same lists and commenting on the exact same hot new show or film.
But, is that all there is? With over a hundred years of incredible filmmaking on the planet, isn’t there something missed when we only pay attention to the latest and greatest? This series is dedicated to answering that question and to exploring a small handful of the unsung films from decades past. I’ll examine each decade in turn, all the way back to the earliest days of film, and I’ll be exploring every genre of film there is! From science fiction, to drama, to romance, to comedy—I’m going to cover the entirety of film history for you, bringing out the golden nuggets for you to enjoy.
As always, with these articles, I love hearing your feedback in the comments section, or on Twitter @indubitablyodin. Let me know what your favorite films of the decade were, which ones you think I should have included, and which you hope I’ll mention in one of my next decades!