Romance Films Essay

Romance Movies And Real Life Relationships

Today, romance is one of the most popular genres to watch on television. Unlike most, romance is a genre where the plot revolves around the love between two main characters as they experience the highs and lows of love. “Common themes that revolve around romantic movies are kissing, love at first sight, tragic love, destructive love, and sentimental love” (Taylor). These themes appear in many historical films and the pattern still continues in modern films as well. Watching romantic movies has a giant negative influence on the viewer's analysis of what love and relationships should really be like. These films give the wrong impression of reality when it comes to dating, marriage, having children, and even how to manage a relationship in the first place. Even though romantic movies are commonly watched, there are many effects on personal real-life relationships after watching these types of films.
To begin with, romantic movies mold expectations of what love is really like. They portray that love is the only thing that matters. In the past, love was secondary. Relationships were arranged by parents because they wanted their children to join lands or kingdoms, and whether or not the couple actually loved each other was irrelevant. Today, parents have almost no say in who their children fall in love with. Romance movies over-emphasize love when it comes to “falling in love at first sight” and the idea that “true love conquers all”. I’m sure that almost everyone knows that real-life love doesn’t work like this, but that doesn’t mean that those illustrations of love that movies characterize doesn’t affect viewers’ hope for romance and true love in their own life. For example, after watching The Notebook, viewers might portray Noah’s love for Ally as writing her a letter every single day for a year. She ended up with three-hundred sixty five letters from him. People who have seen this move might expect their significant other to write them letters, but it is very unrealistic for a someone in real-life to write their loved one this may letters. Viewers end up relating their personal life to one of the characters in the film and are left searching for that happy ending. The article “Romantic Comedies Affect Beliefs About Relationships”, written by Arlyn Riskind, suggests to readers that romantic films are a major source for developing unrealistic expectations about love and relationships. “A survey of 335 undergraduate students in the Midwest found a significant relationship between reporting watching romantic films often and belief in the ideals “love conquers all,” “one and only” love (soul mate) and “love at first sight” (Riskind). These findings compliment the expectation that watching romantic movies is a major source leading to the unrealistic expectations among viewers.
In addition, romantic comedies also give the wrong impression on relationships. If viewers are getting the wrong idea about love itself, then that leads them into expecting more...

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It must have been a while since mainstream cinema audiences were invited to view a young woman submitting to be tied up by an older man (her employer, as it happens), the cord tied between her legs, through her vagina and pulled up good and tight: the unlovely impress of rope on genitalia represented in unforgiving close-up. Then the young woman interrupts the process in tears, not through rage at phallocentric oppression in life and art - nothing so dated - but rather anger at her own timid refusal of this adventure and naturally a vertiginous sense of the profound "enigma" in female sexuality. This is the burden and the song of Romance, Catherine Breillat's opaque essay in eroticism, a film controversial for its explicit portrayal of male arousal: a pink orchard of erect penises.

The film is often discussed in the context of censorship, but in fact it has not been cut: the BBFC have earnestly decreed that this is because it is "very French". (Breillat herself caused a minor sensation at the Edinburgh Film Festival this summer, declaring that censorship was a male urge, and the X certificate was linked to the X chromosome.)

It is the story of Marie (Caroline Ducey), a young woman of saturnine temperament who is infuriated at her fastidious boyfriend Paul (Sagamore Stevenin), and his refusal to make love to her. Her subsequent odyssey of sexual adventure is a lot more hardcore than anything Tom and Nicole ever manage. First, Marie gets it on with Paolo, played by the porn star Rocco Siffredi, veteran of Rocco The Italian Stallion and Facesitter 2, making his art movie debut here. Paolo is supposed to be a widower whose wife was killed in a car crash, and though Mr Siffredi does not quite convey the contingent melancholy nuances, his stolid professionalism is in evidence where it counts: getting wood, on camera. Mr Siffredi gets wood all right. He gets teak; he gets a distressed pine wardrobe. Casting a porn actor in the role is no mere postmodern flourish on Breillat's part; he is the only type of actor with the necessary heft.

Then Marie meets Robert, the middle-aged bondage S&M enthusiast (Francois Berleand), and with him embarks on what might be called an amour fou, were it not for the expression of wan listlessness that Caroline Ducey sports at all times. In whatever congress with Paolo or Robert, her face is turned palely askance on the pillow or the carpet or the cast-iron shackle, her lips perpetually on the verge of some moue of indifference, for all the world as if the actual shagging is happening a couple of miles away. As ever, it is the sphinx-inside-the-riddle effect which is of overwhelming importance: the suggestion that Marie is not merely having sex, but joylessly enacting a deeply unknowable configuration of female sexuality.

Finally, after a violent encounter with a stranger in the stairwell of her apartment-building, Marie becomes pregnant by the insipid Paul, and with impressive brio, Catherine Breillat converts her gynaecological sex scenes into actual gynaecology. Marie is examined by a row of smirking medical students, each with their rubber glove, she fantasises about a row of genteel enceinte matrons being petted by their fussing husbands while their lower halves are candidly rogered by porno stallions. Finally the crown of her baby's head emerges, bloodily filling the screen.

No self-respecting liberal sophisticate can ever profess himself either shocked or aroused by explicit sex on screen: these are the two unbreakable taboos. What everyone always does is airily dismiss this sort of material as "boring", and this haughty, if sometimes disingenuous dismissal may be the fate of Catherine Breillat's Romance. That would not be fair. Caroline Ducey does not have the charisma and self-possession of, say, Catherine Denueve in Belle de Jour, but the film is never as dire or embarrassing as Nine and a Half Weeks or Last Tango in Paris, and does not deserve to join them in the dustbin of cinema history. Romance has many brilliant and bizarre moments, particularly the brutally explicit imagery juxtaposing the penetrations of sex and childbirth.

What is alienating, though, is Catherine Breillat's pedantic insistence on the oppressive and all-important mystery of female sexuality. There is something cold in her vision: the notion of simple pleasure is sacrificed to this brow-furrowing pursuit of a meaning which infinitely recedes. Marie is always fretting: "I am a hole - I disappear in proportion to the cock taking me." Really? Well, Marie, I would say you're not getting out enough, but that can't be the problem. Peering into a supposed mise en abyme of female sexuality is a killjoy approach which renders simple, unexamined pleasure inauthentic. Finally, audiences may revolt - not at Romance's explicitness, but at its strange whiff of puritanism.

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