How do you like your love? Spend Valentine’s Day with some classic silver-screen couples in “The English Patient,” “Match Point,” “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “Shakespeare in Love.”
THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996) on HBO and iTunes. Ralph Fiennes is the patient: Count Laszlo Almasy, a Hungarian cartographer scarred beyond recognition and lying in a bombed-out Tuscan monastery in the waning days of World War II, where he is tended by Hana (Juliette Binoche), a luminous nurse. Kristin Scott Thomas is Katharine Clifton, the Englishwoman whom Almasy pursued with fierce intensity before being consumed by fire. “Swoon,” he whispers to her. “I’ll catch you.” She does. Writing in The New York Times, Janet Maslin called Anthony Minghella’s Oscar-winning take on the Michael Ondaatje novel “a stunning feat of literary adaptation as well as a purely cinematic triumph.”
GIRLFRIEND’S DAY (2017) on Netflix. A greeting-card writer (Bob Odenkirk) tries to recapture his mojo by competing to write the most romantic sentiment for a new California holiday. Murder and mayhem ensue in Michael Stephenson’s droll comedy, helped along by a cast including Amber Tamblyn, Natasha Lyonne, Ed Begley Jr. and Stacy Keach.
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (2016) on Amazon and iTunes. Watch Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender fall in love onscreen — and, it turns out, off — in Derek Cianfrance’s gorgeous tale, adapted from M. L. Stedman’s 2012 novel about a childless Australian couple living on an island who discover a baby in a rowboat and keep it. “Mr. Fassbender and Ms. Vikander make one of the most compelling pairs of screen lovers in the grand David O. Selznick tradition that I’ve come across in many years,” Stephen Holden wrote in The Times.
MATCH POINT (2005) on Amazon and iTunes. Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an Irish tennis pro, climbs the British social ladder after befriending Tom (Matthew Goode), an heir to a business fortune, and wooing his sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer). But when Chris meets Tom’s fiancée, the scrappy American actress Nola (Scarlett Johansson), the temperature of his life suddenly increases from a polite simmer to a full sexual boil. Writing in The Times, A. O. Scott described this Woody Allen drama as “a Champagne cocktail laced with strychnine.”
AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN (1982) on Starz. Richard Gere is Zack Mayo, a hardened loser who becomes a much better man through Navy training and the love of a good woman. Debra Winger is the local girl just waiting for the right guy in uniform to come along. Janet Maslin of The Times praised Taylor Hackford’s “beautifully acted, thoroughly involving romance.”
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998) on FilmStruck. Joseph Fiennes portrays Shakespeare as a struggling playwright, and Gwyneth Paltrow is Viola, the literate, headstrong muse who inspires him to write “Romeo and Juliet” in John Madden’s Oscar winner. Ms. Paltrow “makes a heroine so breathtaking that she seems utterly plausible as the playwright’s guiding light,” Janet Maslin wrote in The Times.
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