During lockdown we’ve all been missing loved ones. Dating app usage is on the rise and you’ve probably found yourself longing for someone to watch Netflix with. Maybe you’re desperate to move back into your student house and reunite with your mates. If, like me, your main lockdown hobby has turned out to be yearning, here are some films you’ll want to watch.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Anyone who’s seen Céline Sciamma’s latest film will tell you it’s a masterpiece. Fleeting looks and arresting dialogue characterise this exploration of the female gaze, with stunning performances by Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant. The story follows Marianne, a painter who’s been tasked with painting Héloïse who is set to be married to a man she’s never met. Marianne’s stay on an isolated island with Héloïse, her mother, and a young maid, Sophie, leaves the two central characters yearning not just for each other, but for an escape from their circumstances.
God’s Own Country (2017)
Yorkshire is the setting for this deeply moving love story, which is as much about yearning for a home as it is about yearning for a person. Johnny (Josh O’Connor) spends his days working on his ailing father’s farm, and his nights drinking and having clandestine encounters with young men. When Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a Romanian migrant, is hired to help with lambing season, the men’s relationship is tense and hostile, but it takes on a new life when the pair go to stay in the hills for a few days. Tender, warm and beautifully shot, this is a love letter to the countryside and unexpected bonds.
Little Women (2019)
Greta Gerwig’s sophomore film brings new dimensions to the well-known story. Yearning is central to the film’s plot, but the sisters are as diverse in their desires as they are in their personalities. Jo desires a career and excitement, Amy longs for love and respect, Meg wants stability and a family of her own, and Beth yearns for the sisters and parents she adores. We follow their lives from teens to young adults, and grieve and celebrate with them, thanks to Gerwig’s expert writing and vision.
Joaquin Phoenix stars in this sci-fi romance, which follows divorcee Theodore, a writer who buys an AI system to help his work. His virtual assistant, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), soon becomes the object of his desire, always in his ear, and they bond during deep discussions about life and love. This film asks the question: what does it mean to long for someone who you’ll never be able to touch? Spike Jonze’s masterful script, coupled with a beautiful soundtrack and a brilliant performance from Phoenix, makes this a disarming, captivating piece of cinema.
The Beguiled (2017)
Sofia Coppola’s film is an intense, steamy exploration of female rivalry and lust, set against the backdrop of the American Civil War. When Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) gets injured and deserts from the Union army, he finds himself seeking refuge at an all-female boarding school in the South. His arrival brings tension and competition to the lives of the girls and staff at the school, exacerbated by McBurney’s status as an enemy soldier. Sumptuous visuals and a brilliant cast (Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning) make this an unmissable Southern Gothic delight.
This hidden gem is one of my favourite films of the decade. Simon Amstell’s film tracks Benjamin (Colin Morgan), a troubled filmmaker who struggles to connect. When he meets young French musician Noah (Phénix Brossard), he falls for him instantly, and the pair embark on a heady, whirlwind romance, punctuated by Benjamin’s insecurities and demons. Amstell’s signature self-deprecating humour is infused throughout the script and makes the film a special mix of heart-warming and crushing.
– Caitlin Barr
All giphs from GIPHY.
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