You might recognize Céline Sciamma's name. The French director's name was one of those embroidered on
Natalie Portman's Oscar's cape that shouted out the female directors who weren't nominated for their extraordinary work in 2019. (Greta Gerwig, Lulu Wang, and Lorene Scafaria were also amongst the monikers listed on Portman's cape.)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where she won the Best Screenplay Award. The story revolves around an 18th century painter, Marianne (Noémie Merlant), who's tasked with painting a portrait of a young woman named Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) to entice her future husband. Héloïse refuses to sit for a painting, not wanting to be married off, so Marianne must pretend to be her companion, all the while memorizing her features to paint the portrait in secret. But as the two grow closer on an isolated island off of Brittany, romance ignites, and their forbidden love burns quickly.
The French film finally hits U.S. theaters on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, and is a great way to spend the holiday. But for those looking for some other options, here are
nine international romances streaming now — all of which are perfect for a date night, Valentine's Day or otherwise. 1 'Il Postino' (Italy)
This 1994 comedic romance tells a fictional tale inspired by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's poetry. Exiled to an Italian island, Neruda helps a young Italian postman find the words to express his love for the woman who's captured his heart.
Il Postino is one of only 12 foreign-language films to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the first to win was Parasite. Available on iTunes. 2 'Omar' (Palestine)
Palestinian baker Omar scales the West Bank barrier wall daily in order to see Nadia, the woman he loves. But their romance is threatened when Omar is lured into a fight between his friends and the Israeli soldiers guarding the border.
Omar screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. Available on Amazon and iTunes. 3 'Lust, Caution' (China)
Ang Lee's 2007 romantic thriller follows a young Chinese spy during World War II who is given the assignment of seducing and murdering a Japanese official. Over the course of her assignment she finds her emotions taking over. This movie, based on the novel by Eileen Chang, is so steamy it earned an NC-17 rating from the MPAA.
Available on Amazon and Vudu. 4 'Like Water For Chocolate' (Mexico)
Cooking never looked so sexy. This film follows a young woman named Tita, whose mother forbids her from marrying Pedro, the love of her life. The movie is based on the popular 1989 book by Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel.
Streaming on Netflix. Available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu. 5 'Cold War' (Poland)
Set against the background of the Cold War in 1950s Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris, this smooth black and white 2018 drama centers on the romance between a musical director and a young singer. The story was inspired by writer-director Pawel Pawilkowski's own parents.
Streaming on Amazon Prime. 6 'Veer-Zaara' (India)
Among the multitudes of Bollywood romances, 2004's
Veer-Zaara Veer has become an Indian classic. Framed within the story of a Pakistani lawyer revisiting old cases, she learns the story of Veer, an Indian Air Force pilot, and Zaara, a Pakistani woman hailing from a rich political family. After Veer saves Zaara's life, their romance unfolds over the course of 22 years. Streaming on Amazon Prime. 7 'Blue Is the Warmest Colour' (France)
Winner of the Palme D'or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival,
Blue is the Warmest Color stars Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos as two young French women who begin a passionate relationship. This one is also pretty steamy, earning an NC-17 rating. Streaming on Netflix. Available to rent on Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes. 8 'In the Mood for Love' (Honk Kong)
Wong Kar-wai's romantic drama tells the story of a man (Tony Leung) and a woman (Maggie Cheung) whose spouses are having an affair. The two then slowly develop feelings for one other. The film premiered at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival where Leung won Best Actor, the first Hong Kong actor to win the award at Cannes.
Streaming on Criterion Channel, Kanopy, and DirecTV. 9 'Casa Grande' (Brazil)
Parasite, Casa Grande explores the class divide between rich and poor, though here there's more young adult romance and less, well...no spoilers for Parasite, just watch it. 2015's Casa Grande takes place in Rio de Janeiro and follows Jean, a young man whose wealthy family is on a downward spiral, but maybe that's not such a bad deal, as it leads him to Luiza. Available on iTunes.
This Valentine's Day, don't let the one inch barrier of subtitles keep you from some real romance.
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