Their Finest

There are so many films out there that take us on a journey, they can open up our minds and take us to new worlds – then there are some films that leave a lasting impression on us and resonate in our minds afterwards. Some of these films may be iconic, British love stories that are always on our go-to list when we need to watch something that basques in British humour and charm and makes us smile as we watch people falling in love.

Is it Valentine’s Day again you may be thinking? No, but a lovely, new British love story is about to hit our big screens. THEIR FINEST tells the story of a British film crew attempts to boost morale during World War II by making a propaganda film after the Blitzkrieg. In between the drama of it all, there is also a charming tale of love. The film stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Jake Lacy, Richard E. Grant, Henry Goodman, Helen McCrory, and Claudia Jessie.

With THEIR FINEST hitting UK cinemas April 21st, we have taken a look at ‘The Best Of British Love Stories’. With so many fantastic films to choose from, here are ten films that have made our list:

Bridget Jones

How can we not have BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY on our list? In fact we love BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON and BRIDGET JONES’S BABY just as much; they could all have bagged three places on our list! Renee Zellweger places the legendary titular character who every girl can relate to in some way or another. Our Bridget is a bubbly, naïve, daydreaming personality who is on the rollercoaster of ups and downs of relationships, as she tries to handle the dating life of a 30-something singleton in London.

After making a New Year’s resolution to change her life, she starts writing a diary, tries to stop smoking, cuts down on drinking, all whilst being on a permanent diet. She embarks on a brief emotional affair with her womanizing boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), the bad boy of the publishing world. At Christmas, she also is re-introduced to Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), a childhood friend who is now a human rights lawyer in the city and she slowly starts to realise he is the perfect guy for her. Zellweger shines in this role and we will forever remember the hilarious fight scene between Firth and Grant. On a miserable day, this film will make you laugh and cheer you up. We salute you, Bridget! 

Pride and Prejudice

Colin Firth was the man who made Mr. Darcy famous in the 1995 TV series of the infamous romantic retelling of the Jane Austen novel, but in the film version, we see Keira Knightley take on the role of the strong-willed and determined Elizabeth Bennet. The film is set in 19th century England and we see how Elizabeth Bennet lives with her mother, father and sisters in the English countryside. As the eldest, she faces mounting pressure from her parents to marry. When the outspoken Elizabeth is introduced to the handsome and upper-class Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), sparks fly. Although there is obvious chemistry between the two, Darcy’s overly reserved nature threatens the fledgling relationship. It is beautiful, it’s complicated and it is a wonderful love story that has been shared through history. It is a super, modern adaptation of a literary classic that is visually beautiful as the romance unfolds.

Love Actually

How we love LOVE ACTUALLY! (We also loved the LOVED ACTUALLY mini sequel for Red nose Day!) It is definitely one of the ultimate romantic comedies to watch and it never fails to give you that soppy feeling of love and happiness even after ten watches. It is set in London and starts 5 weeks before Christmas and counts down in weekly intervals until the event, after which there is a final scene 1 month after Christmas to tie up the stories. The predominately British cast work magnificently as you follow the lives and loves of 8 different groups of people and how their stories intertwine. Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, the late Alan Rickman to name but a few star in the movie. There are so many beautiful moments that make you laugh out loud and others that make you shed a silent tear (or two). LOVE ACTUALLY  was written and directed by Richard Curtis, who captures the Christmas spirit perfectly. If you haven’t already watched it, where have you been hiding? It is another definite must-see! 

Their Finest

Yes, we have a new contender on our ‘Best Of British Love Stories’ list. You may not have seen the film yet (we have – you can read our review here!) as it is not out in cinemas until April 21st, but it should definitely be added to your must-see list next week when it hits the big screen. The film is set in 1940 and the UK is suffering a year into the conflict, with bombs relentlessly dropped on UK cities. However, thirty million cinema-goers are reliant on the glories of the big-screen to take their minds off the tough times. Enter the Ministry of Information, who are producing propaganda films to be screened between the support and main features. Welsh Valley girl, Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is brought in as a support screenwriter to resident scribe Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) to focus on dialogue for any number of films to heighten the struggles of modern war-time woman as their loved ones head off to battle.

Cole reads of a newspaper story about a pair of twin sisters who allegedly made their way to Dunkirk on their father’s boat and did heroic things for the cause in Dunkirk and thus goes to seek out their input on a potential script about the Dunkirk conflict. However, it soon transpires, as is often what is in print, that the ‘truth’ is not all that simple…. A super cast with Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy to name but a few, this film definitely showcases one of the best of British love stories. 

The Holiday

In Nancy Meyers‘ THE HOLIDAY, a romantic comedy from the director of SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE and WHAT WOMEN WANT, two women trade homes only to find that a change of address can change their lives. Iris (Kate Winslet) is in love with a man (Rufus Sewell) who is about to marry another woman. Across the globe, Amanda (Cameron Diaz), realizes the man she lives with has been unfaithful. Two women who have never met and live 6000 miles apart, find themselves in the exact same place. They meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Iris moves into Amanda’s L.A. house in sunny California as Amanda arrives in the snow covered English countryside. Shortly after arriving at their destinations, both women find the last thing either wants or expects: a new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris’ handsome brother Graham (Jude Law) and Iris, with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur (Eli Wallach), mends her heart when she meets film composer Miles (Jack Black).

With Cameron Diaz, Eli Wallach, Jude Law, Rufus Sewell, Kate Winslet, Edward Burns, Jack Black all on board, it certainly boasts a super cast and gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling of love during the festive season. 

Jane Eyre

In a bold new feature version of JANE EYRE, director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Sin Nombre) and screenwriter Moira Buffini (Tamara Drewe) infuse a contemporary immediacy into Charlotte Brontë’s timeless, classic story. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Michael Fassbender (Assassin’s Creed) star in the iconic lead roles of the romantic drama. In the 19th Century-set story, Jane Eyre (Wasikowska) works as a governess at Thornfield Hall, the vast and isolated estate for Adèle Varens, a child under the custody of Thornfield’s brooding master, Edward Rochester (Fassbender). Of course, we all know how it goes, she falls in love with the mysterious man and she finds out that her affections are also returned, but there is a sinister secret that casts a shadow over their relationship.

The film is yet another love story classic, and the movie version does it justice. Mia Wasikowska is super in her role and Michael Fassbender is swoon-worthy as Mr. Rochester. Not yet seen it? Then don’t delay!

Notting Hill

Aww, NOTTING HILL. A true, British classic that is so dear to many. Hugh Grant stars as William Thacker, an owner of a small travel bookshop in Notting Hill, London whose luck changes when by chance he meets American Hollywood star Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) and a transatlantic love affair begins. LOVE ACTUALLY’S Richard Curtis has done it again with this one (and the film below!). The witty, romantic screenplay set to the beautiful backdrop of London and coupled with the stellar acting brings the story to life, with stand out performances from Rhys Ifans as Spike, William’s hapless roommate and Grant’s charismatic, bookish character. The film has bags of British charm, humour and shares a beautiful love story for all to enjoy. 

Four Weddings And A Funeral

How could FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL not make it on our The Best Of British Love Stories list? Richard Curtis created this surprise hit which became the highest-grossing British film of the time. It is also marked the first occasion that he and Hugh Grant worked together (before NOTTING HILL and LOVE ACTUALLY as previously mentioned).

The film tells the story of a group of friends from the perspective of Charles (played by Hugh Grant), who falls for Carrie (Andie MacDowell) as they keep bumping into each other at weddings. This film will always be a British classic that oozes charm, super entertainment and is wonderfully romantic. A fantastic cast, fabulous locations and with excellent humour, what is not to love about this film?!  

Man Up

How we love this film! Lake Bell and Simon Pegg truly make this film and it would be impossible to imagine anyone else in these roles. Nancy (Lake Bell) is 34, single (still), hung-over (again), and exhausted by the endless futile set ups foisted upon her by well-meaning but clueless friends. As she travels across London to toast another 10 years of her parent’s blissfully happy marriage, 40 year old, freshly-hatched divorcee Jack (Simon Pegg) mistakes her for his 24 year old blind date. In a moment of uncharacteristic optimism (or insanity?), Nancy decides to just go with it… 

What follows is a chaotic, unconventional, hilarious night neither of them will ever forget. There will be drinking, there will be home truths; there will be an old classmate with a long-standing crush and stalker tendencies. There will be lost divorce papers, lost hopes, competitive indoor sports and an epic venue-to-venue urban triathlon. Oh, and the small matter of Jack finding out that Nancy isn’t actually his real blind date. 

MAN UP is a romantic comedy about being yourself… or perhaps not being yourself. It’s about taking chances, making decisions and rolling with the consequences. MAN UP is modern, hilarious, witty and completely watchable!

Shakespeare in Love

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE may be the last film mentioned, but is certainly not placed deliberately at the bottom of our list. Set in 1593 London, this popular comedy portrays an imaginary love affair between Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) and William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), who was writing Romeo and Juliet at the time. Surprise, surprise, this film contains none other than… Colin Firth! If you’re hoping for more brooding, Mr. Darcy looks, then prepared to be disappointed, as he played the villain!

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is a story about William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), an established yet struggling playwright and poet, as he goes in search of love in order to come up with new ideas and creations. Then he meets Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow), at an audition for his latest play. She tries to disguise herself as a boy to get the part but Shakespeare sees through it and they begin a whirlwind affair. As she is promised to another and Shakespeare is married they both know that their romance is self-destructive and cannot go anywhere, leading him to write one of his most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet. Someone pass us a tissue! Beautiful, emotional and one of the ‘Best Of British Love Stories.

So there you have it. Our list of ‘The Best Of British Love Stories’ is now complete, although there are so many other classics which could easily make the cut. Which of these films have you enjoyed the most? Are there any films that are not on the list which are your favourite? Have your say in the comment box below.

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