Shelf Help: What Makes You Believe In Love?

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers. Whether you are in love or licking your own romantic wounds, attached or blissfully untethered, there is no denying that certain TV shows or movies can make you feel all the feels.

This week, we reflected on those things that make you believe in love. Not necessarily the most romantic film or the show that turns you on the most, but the thing film the power to heal you after a breakup or help you convince a curmudgeon that love is real.

What film or TV show makes you believe in romance?


True Romance
As the title might imply, this one is all about romance…or at least Quentin Tarantino’s idea of a bloody, crime-laden, expletive-filled, violent romance. Directed by Tony Scott, the 1993 Tarantino-penned movie follows the love affair between lonely Elvis and kung fu film-loving Detroit nerd Clarence (Christian Slater) and the sweet call girl Alabama (Patricia Arquette) hired by his boss for Clarence’s birthday. Throw in the murder of a pimp, a drug heist, the mob, the DEA, and a sleazy Hollywood producer, you definitely don’t have the ingredients for your average love story. Watching this movie for the first time as a 14-year-old girl in the mid-1990s to fulfill a teenage crush on Slater that I’ve never quite grown out of (how many other grade 9 girls are renting The Name Of The Rose on VHS?), True Romance and my intro to Tarantino showed me that cinematic love isn’t just for princesses, clutzy women, and men with boomboxes. Despite the bloodshed and 225 derivatives of the f-word, it’s a bright, bubblegum-coloured look at two misfit Bonnie-and-Clyde lovers who will do anything for one another. It’s a movie filled with hope, optimism and yes, even romance.- Rachel West



Your Name
Taki and Mitsuha randomly wake up in each other’s bodies and are therefore forced to grow accustomed to each other’s lives. It’s the “grow accustomed to each other’s lives” part that builds the emotional weight. Because of this otherworldly experience, there’s nobody who knows Taki better than Mitsuha does, and there’s nobody who knows Mitsuha better than Taki does. It’s a bond the two have with one another because they have literally been in each other’s shoes.
That bond eventually leads to intense desire and longing for the two to meet, not just to confess their love for one another, but to realize that their bond exists in the flesh. This is more than just love. It’s recognizing a deep connection and having that feeling confirmed because that significant other feels the same way.
Yet, because of the same otherworldly elements that created the body-swapping phenomenon in the first place, Taki and Mitsuha are unable to meet. It’s buildup without catharsis, like you’re shown something profoundly sad or happy and your eyes are somehow “prevented” from crying. And yet, that force that prevents Taki and Mitsuha from meeting further strengthens each of their longings to see one another.
Longing comes from the most human part of us, the part where we dream a little and yearn for something beautiful that we have trouble finding in our harsh, unforgiving reality. Anybody who has ever experienced a love, a loss, or in my experience, a long-distance relationship, can understand that throbbing feeling of longing.
The amount of emotional release when Taki and Mitsuha finally embrace each other is immeasurable. For them, it’s an ache they’ve experienced for more than five years finally disappearing; a full catharsis.
Their connection is real. What they have been feeling all this time… it’s real. Then the floodgates open. –Kevin Lee



Who knows what brainwave I was on when Deirdre sent this question, but my immediate response was Silence of the Lambs. If the quid pro quo of Clarice and Dr. Lecter is the nature of true love, then whatever works, I guess. Choosing Silence of the Lambs is a bit weird, though, since I have purchased a bottle of Chianti literally once – when making some risotto from Debi Mazar’s Italian cookbook.

Chianti’s fine, but I’m really more of a pinot noir drinker. I guess my answer to this question after mulling it over is Sideways. I love the tender, cautious romance between Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Maya (Virgina Madsen) as they get a feel for one another during the former’s trip through California’s wine country. The film lets their romance breathe and gradually come into its own flavour. The wine connoisseurs have both been burned by love before, so for anyone who’s dating life seems like a series of corked bottles, Sideways is the love story for you. The film lets Miles and Maya work each other over like two exacting taste-testers appraising a vintage’s notes and textures. That “life of wine” scene where they share some glasses and intimately geek out over grapes (but are really talking about themselves) warms the heart like a good bottle of pinot does. Lovelorn lushes in the digital dating age should grab a bottle and a copy of Sideways for a lesson in the value of face time and shared experiences. Sideways is a welcome reminder that it’s never too late to find the perfect wine pairing. –Pat Mullen



A Different World

The TV show that always makes me believe in romance is A Different World. Specifically the Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison) and Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy) love story. I immediately identified with Dwayne’s pretty cool but never have the occasion to show it protagonist. I also loved the opposites attract through line of the seasons long journey to them finally making things official. By today’s standards, though, Dwayne’s perusal of Whitley, culminating in breaking up her wedding to a senator, could be seen as highly problematic. However, my young brain just absorbed the lesson that when you know you’ve found the right person, they’re worth fighting for. Luckily I’ve never had to deal with fighting for someone on their wedding day. Because, even though I will rewatch that moment multiple times a year just cause, there’s no chance that would go over well in real life. –Daniel Grant



John Duigan’s 1991 coming-of-age drama Flirting is a film that always warms my heart. The sequel to The Year My Voice Broke, the film follows 17-year-old Danny (Noah Taylor) as he struggles to navigate his boarding school in Australia. Danny (Noah Taylor) is brilliant but awkward, and his stutter makes him an easy target for ridicule. However, his fortunes change when he meets Thandiwe (Thandie Newton). The only black student at the all girls school across the pond, Thandiwe has her share of adversities, including the school “mean girl” played by Nicole Kidman, to overcome at school. As Danny and Thandiwe grow closer over the course of the year, Flirting captures loves ability to overcome the numerous obstacles thrown in its way.


Unlike most teen flicks, Flirting manages to charm while tackling rather serious issues. The fact that Danny and Thandiwe are an interracial couple in 1965 comes with its share of racial and social challenges. Confidently resisting the temptation to take the easy way out, Flirting embraces the complexities of youth and love with a grace that is mesmerizing. As if the central romance was not enough, the casting alone, which also includes Naomi Watts in a supporting role, makes the film a must-see. –Courtney Small

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