Around the World on a Night In — Valentine’s Day

Eight foreign films for an evening of romance!

By Jaime Ryan

Looking to expand your knowledge of world cinema with that special someone? Or maybe with no oneーjust you, all alone, looking for romance films to fill the void in your lonely heart? Even if you’re not entertaining a guest, keep the night entertaining with these great romance movies from across the globe this Valentine’s Day.

1. Like Water for Chocolate ~ Mexico

Based on the popular novel of the same name, Como Agua para Chocolate, or Like Water for Chocolate when translated, is a magical realism masterpiece. The film received much praise in its home country, winning ten Ariel Awards (Mexican equivalent of Oscars), including Best Picture. An exploration of tradition in conflict with passion, this cuisine-infused drama will keep your mouth watering.

2. Medianeras ~ Argentina

This stylized love story is perfect for fans of the avant-garde. Director Gustavo Taretto uses his whimsical eye to pull the audience into the lives of two weirdos destined for love, but who still haven’t quite found each other yet. Medianeras frustrates its audience with ironic missed connections and the all-too-familiar struggle of dating in a virtual world. Yet, the promise of love, coupled with stunning visuals, keeps our eyes glued to the screen.

3. Casa Grande, or The Ballad of Poor Jean ~ Brazil

A bildungsroman that addresses class privilege, Casa Grande wraps sociopolitical and racial discourse into the life of Jean, an angsty teen learning how the world really works. Can young, dangerous love triumph over the walls of wealth and ‘good breeding’ in Rio de Janeiro? Director Fellipe Barbosa asks this question and many more in Casa Grande, a prime example of how cinema can expose global audiences to different societies and the challenges they face in the modern world.

4. The Wedding Party ~ Nigeria

The second-highest grossing Nigerian film of all time (The Wedding Party 2 is in first place), The Wedding Party is a smash hit on the world stage. This blockbuster is akin to Crazy Rich Asians in grandeur, but also in its celebration of culture and country, zooming in on family, tradition, and the chaos that comes with shaking up those major institutions. Watch this lavish rom com for insight into the rise of Nollywood.

5. Amélie ~ France

I had to put a French film on the list, and I had to make that French film one of my all-time favorite movies. Amélie is the epitome of imaginative filmmaking, delving into the mind of a Parisian girl who cures loneliness with selfless, unconditional love for the world. France is known for its international film success, but this one takes the cake: Amélie is the highest-grossing French language film worldwide, and one of the most acclaimed at a variety of international festivals and awards ceremonies. Watch this one over and over again with all your loved ones.

6. Omar ~ Palestine

A light in the darkness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the phenomenal cinema emerging out of the region. Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers are using the medium to tell their heartbroken stories and call for peace; Omar is a masterpiece of this movement. Omar drops its audience into the tension of the West Bank, revealing what it takes to make love prevail in the most hateful circumstances.

7. Veer-Zaara ~ India

Another that touches on territorial conflict and identity politics through the lens of love, Veer-Zaara features a romance between an Indian Air Force pilot and a Pakistani woman from a wealthy, politically influential family. If you’re a global politics junkie, this is a good option — if you’re an awesome film score junkie, this is a great option. The Veer-Zaara soundtrack album was the highest-selling album in India during the year of its release.

8. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ~ China

Last but not least on our trip around the film world is one of the greatest movies of all time — which also happens to be one of the greatest romances of all time. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has it all: it’s the highest-grossing foreign film in America, it’s tied with Roma (another great film for a future Around the World on a Night In list) for most academy nominations received by a foreign film, and it’s still heralded as one of the most influential martial arts films in cinema history. If you’re using Valentine’s Day as an excuse to stay home and watch a historic film, this is the flick for you.