Romance is a film genre that focuses on romantic love stories, typically the romantic relationship between two main characters on a journey that takes them through dating and possibly to marriage. Often, a romance film can involve the couple overcoming obstacles such as financial difficulties, illness, work and family relations.
The focus of such films often involves the idea of love at first sight, unrequited love, obsessive love, forbidden love and tragic love, and usually, the film ends with the couple getting their happily ever after. Romantic comedies are a very popular sub-genre of romantic films.
Romance often gets paired with drama to create a story of two lovers trying to overcome some kind of barrier or obstacle to their love. Often these films focus on realism with complex and dark themes, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, racial prejudice, sexuality and class division. Music is an important element exploited in these kinds of films to invoke a specific mood or atmosphere.
A great example of romantic drama is Titanic, the story of two people from very different worlds falling in love, Rose being a first-class woman and Jack, a poor third-class man. This film ends up having more than one source of drama, however, as the Titanic hits an iceberg and starts to sink, ripping the pair apart as Jack dies in the icy water, letting Rose live by allowing her to float on top of a wooden door.
Other examples of romantic dramas include Casablanca, Last Tango in Paris, Water for Elephants and Me Before You.
“Chick flick” is a slang term for romantic films that are aimed towards a young, female audience. The term can often be used in a pejorative sense, and “chick flick” films are often not held in high regard in the general film world.
The phrase has its roots in “women’s pictures” from the early twentieth century, where women were portrayed as a victim and a housewife, and later the film noir of the 40s and 50s which depicted the threat of sexualised women. The 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered by some to be an early “chick flick”. In the 1980s, a range of teenage drama films that were considered “chick flicks” were released, many by director John Hughes.
The Twilight films were considered to be “chick flicks”, and they dominated the box office at the time, with more than 75% of the film’s opening weekend audience being female. While “chick flick” is often thought to be a sub-genre of the sub-genre of romantic comedies, it has been heavily criticised as a term for unnecessarily gendering films.
Rom-coms are so well known and loved in the world of cinema that this sub-genre of both comedy and romantic films is considered by many to be a stand-alone genre in its own right.
These kinds of films typically have a light-hearted, humorous plot centred around romance. The obstacles that the couple might need to overcome are not usually as intense or dark as romantic films that don’t belong to the rom-com sub-genre, and they almost always have a fairy-tale style happy ending.
Romantic comedies are very popular and can be found dominating the box office every year. But despite their popularity, some concerns have been raised about the effects of these films on people’s perceptions of love and relationships. Scholars have raised issue with the themes of romantic comedies such as women placing men at the centre of their world and men fighting for a woman no matter what.
Th results of some studies suggest that people who are fond of these types of films might struggle with romantic relationships in real life. A study found that people who enjoyed films such as You’ve Got Mail, The Wedding Planner and While You Were Sleeping, often failed to communicate with their partners effectively, and had beliefs that, if a person is meant to be with them, they would know their needs without being told. It suggest a correlation between how romantic comedies could be distorting people’s expectations of relationships.
Regardless, people have loved these films since their boom in the 90s with Notting Hill and She’s All That, and that love has continued today with more recent releases like Love Simon and A Star is Born.