I was born of the female persuasion, which means I'm genetically predisposed to an unhealthy obsession with romantic films... Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. Quentin Tarantino? Just stick to the formula and stop going beserk with unnecessary bloodthirsty slashings, OK?
BUT... I'm sure the chorus girls will agree that for said formula to work, for the romance to harvest butterflies, tears, memories and DVD purchases, the two on-screen leads must have chemistry. No sizzle? No sale.
This hit home last night, when I finally caught the silver screen adaptation of David Nicholls' page-turning novel One Day. I'm human, which means I loved the book, but aspects of the film kind of annoyed me at first. The transition from each year to the next felt jarring, and the casting of an American playing a Yorkshire girl made me want to throw popcorn at the screen.
But, by the end, the film had redeemed itself. I actually walked out of the cinema a bit gushy about it all... I liked it. And as much as I wanted to hate the two leads at the beginning, by the end, I believed their story and I was moved. Because they had undeniable chemistry.
Which inspired me to make a little list of a few on-screen pairings, which I feel either do or do not produce the sizzle. This is a subjective list of course, and there are loads more, but I enjoyed making it... if you have any to add, please do!
1. As if they didn't hook up in real life.
Brad and Angelina in Mr and Mrs Smith
Oh yeah, except they did hook up in real life and are now growing a small army. 'Nuff said.
Clarke and Vivian in Gone With the Wind
Two utterly self-obsessed people utterly in love with the other. Vivian was so pretty and prissy as the selfish Scarlett; and Clarke was so masculine, and dominating, and just a little bit gross, as the only man strong enough to squash her. Rrrraow.
Richard and Julia in Pretty Woman
How could anyone NOT experience the sizzle with the salt-and-pepper-Gere-force? But extra kudos goes to Julia's dorky, girl-next-door vibe and scene-stealing smile. They were just so gorgeous together we made up the sizzle, whether it was really there or not.
Harrison and Carrie in the only Star Wars films ever worth mentioning
We don't talk about the prequels here.
Leia: "I love you."
Han: "I know."
Patrick and Demi in Ghost
I was tossing up whether to include Patrick and Jennifer in Dirty Dancing here instead, but I just personally loved Ghost. Demi was so pure, so fragile, so wounded. And when Patrick's character appeared to her, he was so gentle and fragile and... wounded. Oh and did I mention pottery? Slam dunk you two, nice work. Now get a room.
2. No sizzle to be seen folks, moving it right along.
Brad and Cate in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Don't even get me started on a film in which an old lady has romantic feelings for a newborn baby... a super interesting idea, truly love the head trip, but visually it just freaked me out. And while I adore Cate, and quite like Brad, together she just seemed like his older sister. I think when they finally kissed I was thinking about if I had any clean socks left in my drawer.
Natalie and Hayden in the Star Wars prequels
Oh crap I broke my rule and spoke about the unspeakable. Nat would have had more sizzle with Jar Jar Binks. JAR JAR BINKS, people, that's where we're at here.
Tom and Nicole in Eyes Wide Shut
Oh yes, the married couple who apparently played all sorts of weird sexual innuendo games with Stanley Kubrick into the wee hours of the morning until they divorced and he died. I really hated it when they broke up, until I watched this movie and realised the heat between them gave me a cold shiver. So I accepted it. And then tried to delete the movie from my brain. Shudder.
Katharine and Gerard in The Ugly Truth
Oh this film is ugly alright. What annoyed me the most was the ridiculous portrayal of live breakfast television, one of my old work hunting grounds. I couldn't help but sit there cringing and saying things like, "nooooo..." and "that would never happen!!" Enter Gerard Butler trying to woo Katharine Heigl and I found myself cringing and saying things like, "nooooo..." and "that would never happen!!"