You can’t have possibly missed that it’s the BFI Romance Festival this weekend! In honour we talked to one of our favourite authors, Kate Hardy, about her favourite films…
“I have to cheat here. I have two favourite films and I can’t choose between them. They’re both romantic, in different ways; one’s a drama and one’s a comedy. Both make me laugh in places, and both make me cry. And I think they’re both the most perfect films in the world – even though they were produced decades apart.
It’s a Wonderful Life is exactly that: wonderful. It’s a celebration of life and love. As well as the romance between George Bailey and Mary Hatch (which I loved – they’re so perfect for each other – and ohhh, the phone scene – ‘the chance of a lifetime’), there’s the celebration of how a good man can make a huge and positive difference to people’s lives while thinking that he’s not done very much at all. The film does make me cry and rage against the horrible people in the world like Henry Potter who treat people so badly and do so much damage and seem to get away with it – but the George Baileys of the world are the ones who save the world. They’re the real heroes.
And, best of all for me, it’s the way the town responds when his uncle accidentally loses money (cough, Potter steals), which threatens his family business – everyone chips in whatever they can to help George, the way he’s always helped people all his life. It’s the community and warmth and real love that draws me here. And Clarence definitely earns his wings. (Actually, I cry at that bit, too, but they’re happy tears. Attaboy, Clarence.) It’s the perfect happy ending, one that you feel is really deserved.
My other favourite film is How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. This is the one I react to with my writer’s head on – for me, it has the perfect structure. The woman who wants to prove that she can make a man dump her within 10 days by his behaviour (and, by writing the article, get the job she dreams about); she’s set up with the man who wants to prove that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days (to win a bet to work on his dream advertising brief). Both have to pretend they’re not quite who they are, for the sake of their goals – but at the same time both let little things slip about who they really are, and quietly fall in love with each other’s real selves.
The dialogue is snappy and fast (and I would love to be able to write comedy like that). It’s genuinely funny. The characterisation is warm and believable. And I like how they change each other for the better. (That card game with his family – that’s one of my favourite bits.)
Then there’s the discovery that they’ve both been lying to each other. The outrage (and I love, love, love the new lyrics to ‘You’re So Vain’). The realisation that they love who each other really is but think they’ve blown it (and the hurt pride is also getting in the way). And then the realisation that, actually, they can have it all. They just have to be brave. He goes after her. And he calls her on it – using the one word that will work (from his family’s card game).
It’s the perfect romance. Character, conflict and resolution. You callin’ my bluff? You bet I am… (And oh, yeah – ending with the perfect screen kiss!)”
If you’re wondering why Kate is such a romantic, you should check out her latest book, Falling for Mr December