Streaming Spotlight: a taste of romance

Seven delicious films for your Valentine

by Jennie Kermode

“If music be the food of love, play on,” wrote Shakespeare, but we prefer to think that the food of love is, well food. That’s why we’ve assembled this mouth-watering selection of movies to remind you that the best way to the heart is through the stomach.

Lady And The Tramp
Lady And The Tramp

Lady And The Tramp, Amazon

Amber Wilkinson writes: Meals don't come much more romantic or memorable than the plate of spaghetti and meatballs shared by spaniel Lady and loveable mutt Tramp in the 1955 Disney animation as they're serenaded by waiters. Their unexpected kiss is a sweet moment in a film that's also packed with plenty of adventure as Tramp encourages Lady to leave the human world behind after her owners discover a baby is on the way. The tunes are catchy, particularly the bom-bo-bom-ruff of the dogs' chorus and Peggy Lee's blues triumph He's A Tramp, and if the unfortunately racist Siamese cat pairing has not aged well (they were replaced in the recent remake by Devon Rex and a new song), it could be seen as an opportunity to talk about prejudice with younger children in ways they can understand.

Breaking Fast
Breaking Fast

Breaking Fast - Amazon Prime, Google Play, Chili, Sky

We rarely value things as much as when we’ve gone without them, and that’s certainly true of the iftar feast that takes place during Ramadan when the sun goes down. Mo (Haaz Sleiman) is living alone after breaking up with his long term boyfriend and missing out on some of the pleasures of the season. He has become cynical about his friends’ attempts to fix him up with strangers but when he meets Kal (Michael Cassidy), who can actually cook and shares his appreciation for Superman, things start looking up. Can he get over his self-doubt in time to avoid screwing it all up? Director Mike Mosallam told us that his crew could barely wait until they wrapped on each of the dinner scenes so they could eat all the food.

The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Postman Always Rings Twice

The Postman Always Rings Twice - Chili

If you know your Reservoir Dogs, you’ll appreciate the importance of waitressing as an economic option for women. For Cora (Lana Turner), however, serving tables in her husband’s diner is not enough, and neither is her husband. When drifter Frank (John Garfield) drops in for a bite to eat, their sizzling chemistry is immediately apparent, and soon they’re hatching a plot to get the aforesaid husband out of the way. Few onscreen couples have ever evinced this kind of passion, even though by all accounts it was a damp squib when they tried it off screen, and even though she is, of course, a whole lot less interested once she’s got what she wanted. the remake with Jessica Lange may be more explicit but Turner can say it all with a glance, and Sidney Wagner’s splendid cinematography means noir doesn’t get any darker than this.

The Lunchbox
The Lunchbox

The Lunchbox - BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Google Play, BFI Player

From the very dark to the sublimely sweet: Ritesh Batra’s charming story of an accidental friendship that brings warmth into two lonely lives carries a promise of romance so potent that its characters are afraid to meet. Ia (Nimrat Kaur) tries to resolve the unhappiness in her marriage by making perfect lunches for her husband but when one is delivered, by mistake, to widower Saajan (Irrfan Khan) instead, it sparks an exchange of notes which changes both their outlooks on life. It’s a daring challenge to the traditions of Indian cinema, suggesting that duty might not be the most important thing in life, but so modest and beautifully crafted that you be forgiven for missing that.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

Cloudy with A Chance Of Meatballs - Chili

Things get a whole lot wilder in this animated tale, which sees young inventor Flint try to solve world hunger by developing a machine which creates food – only to lose control of it, as such characters inevitably do. When food literally falls out of the sky it naturally attracts the attention of ambitious weathergirl Sam, who is much more serious meteorologist than smiles and short skirts. When Flint realises this, he’s soon head over heels in love – and in, um, lemon jelly, which is among the foods now taking over the town. Can he undo the damage, restore a troubled relationship with his taciturn dad and make himself available to be got by the girl? Endlessly inventive animation will keep you entertained while you find out.

Waitress
Waitress

Waitress - Amazon

Amber Wilkinson writes: There's a cherry pie sweetness and just a hint of tart realism to this tale of waitress Jenna (Keri Russell), who makes up recipes to suit her mood, including, upon discovering she is pregnant to her unpleasant spouse Earl (Jeremy Sisto), I Don't Want Earl's Baby Pie. Going through with the pregnancy - and writing periodic letters to her unborn child - she embarks on an affair with her obstetrician (Nathan Fillion), making some tempting, and not so tempting, sounding pie fillings as she goes. This may not sound like the ingredients for a comedy, but it is and it has a message as wholesome as Mom's apple pie. Tragically, director Adrienne Shelly was never able to enjoy the success of this sweet crowd-pleaser, as she was murdered before it had its premiere. The foundation set up in her name continues to support female filmmakers.

Perfect Sense
Perfect Sense

Perfect Sense - Google Play, Rakuten TV

When this film first came along, in 2010, it felt rather different – the story of a pandemic that begins with people losing their sense of smell, then their sense of taste. Epidemiologist Susan (Eva Green) is battling to find a solution whilst getting caught up in a tumultuous affair with chef Michael (Ewan McGregor) in the meantime. Tragedy is on the cards as other senses also begin to fade, and society’s struggles to adjust are a lot more familiar now, but in the meantime there’s a burst of creativity as Michael tries to keep his business going by creating new culinary sensations which are all about texture. Eating shaving foam together in the bath may not be something you should try at home, but the romance here is one that will stay with you.

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