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Top 10 Most Realistic Romance Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut
Movies seem to display love in a very unrealistic manner. For this list, we’re looking at movies with realistic depictions of the highs or lows associated with relationships. While the premise and visual style are important, the focus is more on the film's tone and emotional heartbeat. Please note that spoilers will be included for a couple of these entries. We’ve included movies like Juno, The Big Sick, Lost in Translations, Like Crazy, 500 Days of Summer, Amour, “Before” trilogy and more!

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Top 10 Most Realistic Romance Movies

Real love comes in many shapes and sizes. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies With Honest Depictions of Love and Relationships.
For this list, we’re looking at films with realistic portrayals of the highs or lows associated with romantic relationships. While the premise and visual style are important, the focus is more on the flick's tone and emotional heartbeat. Please note that spoilers will be included for some of these entries.

#10: “Juno” (2007)

A film that spoke to an entire generation, Jason Reitman's sharp comedy tackles the sensitive topic of teenage pregnancy while throwing in a surprisingly genuine portrayal of puppy love. While the pregnancy storyline does not seem too preoccupied with realism, Juno and Bleeker's confusing relationship hits nearly all of the right notes. Largely depicted as a witty and in-control teenager, Juno's complex feelings for Paulie Bleeker leave her feeling vulnerable, so she pushes him away but then gets upset when he moves on. Terrified of the responsibility that comes with parenthood, the married couple who plans to adopt Juno's baby is also pretty relatable.

#9: “The Big Sick” (2017)

Comedy and tragedy are just opposite sides of the same coin, and this is rarely more apparent than in this 2017 rom-com about a couple from different walks of life. "The Big Sick's" central conflict rests on Kumail's reluctance to get involved with a non-Muslim partner, as this goes against his family’s wishes. Whether questioning if a blooming romance is worth the risk of being disowned, or trying to move past a mistake that put a serious strain on a marriage, "The Big Sick's" relationships go up against genuine issues that cannot be solved by a sugary declaration of love.

#8: “La La Land” (2016)

Sure, the characters may occasionally break into a spontaneous song and dance number, but the feels are all too real! A stark left turn from 2014's "Whiplash," Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" pays homage to Hollywood musicals of yesteryear, but beneath all the fancy lights and jazz tunes, there is a simple love story between two aspiring artists who cannot quite balance their personal and professional lives. Bolstered by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone's natural chemistry, "La La Land" is a tour-de-force that suggests happiness still has a place after heartbreak.

#7: “Lost in Translation” (2003)

For better or worse, love tends to be associated with explosiveness, especially when a budding romance takes center stage. Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" subverts expectations by replacing passion with melancholy, while sprinkling in just enough hopefulness to not be too depressing. Despite coming from completely different backgrounds, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s characters are drawn together over a shared taste for apathy due to being stuck in turbulent relationships. Are these two in love? Maybe, but "Lost in Translation's" brilliance rests on the nuanced depiction of longing and repressed romance. And while we don't support the movie’s potentially stereotypical portrayals of the Japanese, it does have a realistic love story nonetheless.

#6: “Like Crazy” (2011)

Even though love can overcome most trials and tribulations, apparently, immigration laws are not one of them. Inspired by the director's own personal experience, "Like Crazy" sees Anna and Jacob’s blooming romance cut short by Anna overstaying her student visa and getting banned from entering the US. Separated by thousands of miles and a steadily growing sense of frustration caused by the rift, "Like Crazy" is an occasionally sentimental but always entertaining love story that shows a realistic portrayal of the challenges faced by long-distance relationships.

#5: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

If there is one writer capable of blending the surreal with the heartfelt, Charlie Kaufman would be that person. With a premise revolving around a company that erases memories, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" ventures into sci-fi territory; nevertheless, anyone who has endured a bad break-up should be able to relate to the movie's emotional core. Yearning to erase his last relationship, Jim Carrey's Joel undergoes the procedure but starts regretting the decision once the relationship's more positive memories are targeted. Weird but oddly beautiful, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is ideal for hopeful romantics with broken hearts.

#4: “Blue Valentine” (2010)

Young love is intense, overwhelming, and feels everlasting; unfortunately, marriage requires a lot more than just passion. Aptly titled and opting for a non-linear approach, "Blue Valentine" juxtapositions Dean and Cindy's struggling marriage with moments from the couple's promising earlier days. Caught in a whirlwind of hormones and feelings, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams' characters decide to start a family after Cindy gets pregnant, but life's responsibilities gradually put a strain on the couple's rushed romance. "Blue Valentine" is far from an easygoing watch and offers no clear-cut solutions, but that merely allows the story to resonate more with viewers.

#3: “500 Days of Summer” (2009)

Relationships are not always fair; occasionally, one person is simply more in love than the other, and that is nobody's fault. Told from the perspective of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Tom, "500 Days of Summer" is a witty but poignant depiction of a romance that was destined for failure, despite the protagonist's sincere efforts to make things work. Usually depicted as a joke or an obsession, movies rarely tackle unrequited love in a way that is respectful to both parties; however, "500 Days of Summer" avoids presenting either Tom or Summer as the bad guy.

#2: “Amour” (2012)

Hailing from the director who blessed the world with the brutal "Funny Games" and the creepy "Caché," Michael Haneke threw critics for a loop with 2012's Academy Award-winning romantic drama about love, life, death, and responsibility. Led by two towering performances from Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour" sees an elderly couple dealing with the aftermath of a stroke that leaves one member paralyzed. A deeply human experience that toes the line between heartwarming and devastating, "Amour" feels almost too real and may hit a bit too close to home for anyone has gone through something similar.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“The Break-Up” (2006)
“Celeste and Jesse Forever” (2012)
“When Harry Met Sally...” (1989)

#1: The “Before” trilogy (1995-2013)

Richard Linklater's minimalist but ambitious set of films comment on many different forms of relationships, and the same couple is at the center of each one. Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, "Before Sunrise" finds the passionate but inexperienced young adults pondering the meaning of love and opting to live in the moment, even going as far as to not exchange names or phone numbers, while "Before Sunset" sees the couple reuniting in Paris years later. With potential and lost love firmly traversed, "Before Midnight" focuses on the issues associated with long-lasting relationships, as intimacy gives way to familiarity and a fading spark.

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