Staying in for Valentine’s Day? Having trouble getting into the spirit of things? No problem, we got you covered! Here are five romantic movies to watch on this year’s Valentine’s Day.
- The Matchmaker: An Investigation in Love
Renowned Israeli director Avi Nesher (Image of Victory, The Secrets) takes you back to Haifa of 1968. Rock n’ roll has come to Israel, free love is in the air, and summer never seems to end. But as young Arik (Tuval Shafir) discovers, there is much he has to learn about love — and who better to teach him about love than a matchmaker?
Enter Holocaust survivor and neighborhood matchmaker Yankale (Israeli comic Adir Miller), who hires Arik to investigate potential matches. His new gig is just the excuse Arik needed to voyage from his life at home and into the adult world, where he tries to decipher what love is while meeting a host of characters including Clara (Maya Dagan), Yenkele’s unrequited love, and like him a Holocaust survivor. The more that Arik feels the liberating rush of falling in love, the more he also learns about where love cannot go.
Hailed by Israeli and international audiences alike as an instant classic, The Matchmaker was an Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and a renewed foray into the Israeli mainstream by Nesher, whose storied career as a director spans five decades. It’s full of laughs, and maybe a few tears, but then again isn’t that what love looks like?
Stream Avi Nesher's The Matchmaker starring Adir Miller and Maya Dagan on ChaiFlicks.
- An Irrepressible Woman: A True Story of Love in Darkness
This love story is as unbelievable as it is true. An Irrepressible Woman traces the unbreakable connection between Jeanne Reichenbach and Leon Blum — a French Jewish politician and three-time French Prime Minister, portrayed in this film by legendary French actor Hippolyte Girardot (Paris, Je Taime, The French Dispatch). Jeanne (Elsa Zylberstein) was the secretary of Blum, during which time they began an affair; but in 1940, just when they could finally be together in the open, Germany is invading France, and the French Army is on the retreat.
Jeanne, determined to stay with Blum, gives up the chance to flee to America, and stays by his side. When he is imprisoned by the Vichy due to his opposition and put on trial, she continues to give him support at her own peril. As the noose slowly tightens around him, she never lets go, and puts herself into even more unimaginable risks just to stay together.
This film by Laurent Heynemann is an astonishing true story, an examination of a woman who could not, and would not, let go of the person she felt closest to. With great attention to historical detail, it captures a feel of unashamed romance that we don’t find as often today, and deservedly so.
Stream An Irrepressible Woman starring Elsa Zylberstein and Hippolyte Girardot on ChaiFlicks.
- My Polish Honeymoon: Post-Wedding Blues
Some couples have everything all planned out, and some… well, that’s the case with Anna (Judith Chemla) and Adam (Arthur Igual), a Parisian couple that just got married, and needing a break from their baby son, decide to embark on a vacation: except, that is, the destination is Krakow, where Adam’s grandfather came from.
It’s clear from the start that Anna, whose family also came from Poland, is far more excited about the trip than Adam. Lots of comic mishaps ensue as these two Frenchemen attempt to speak with the locals and walk about town; at the same time, they also diverge in how they relate to this country, their family histories, and their Jewish identity.
Directed with a warm touch by Elise Otzenberger, My Polish Honeymoon is a distinct rom-com, tackling deeply personal and often controversial themes while still remaining a sweet and funny story of a couple finding their way.
Watch My Polish Honeymoon starring Judith Chemla and Arthur Igual is available to stream on ChaiFlicks.
- Jaffa: Israel's Romeo and Juliet
Winner of Best Israeli Feature at the Jerusalem Film Festival, this film is a Romeo-and-Juliet style romance based in Jaffa's multi-ethnic reality. Jaffa centers on a Jewish girl named Mali (Dana Ivgy, Zero Motivation) and her boyfriend Arab mechanic Toufik (Mahmoud Shalaby), who have been in love secretly; however, deciding to get married, they must reveal the truth to their families.
But just when they’re about to announce their engagement, tragedy strikes when Mali’s troubled brother Meir (Roy Assaf) gets into a fight with Toufik. A situation already rife with anxiety turns unimaginable, as this romance between two peoples who can hardly coexist faces greater perils with every passing moment.
Under the sensitive direction of Keren Yedaya, Jaffa is a tale as old as time, yet told in such an original and unexpected way that we can never really tell where it is going. With powerhouse performances from legendary Israeli actress Ronit Elkabetz (The Band’s Visit) and the veteran Moni Moshonov (Late Marriage), it grips our hearts and never lets up.
Stream Jaffa starring Dana Ivgy, Moni Moshonov, and Ronit Elkabetz on ChaiFlicks.
- An Impossible Love: A Family Across the Century
Can an unrequited love ever come true? It did, at first, for one woman. Spanning fifty years, An Impossible Love focuses on Rachel (Virgine Efira), a working-class woman in a small French town who falls in love with a wealthy suitor named Philipe (Niels Schneider). While they initially share an ecstatic romance, Philipe moves away, and when she becomes pregnant, everything changes.
The more that Rachel learns about what kind of man Philipe is, the more that she finds she cannot break off her love for him. Raising her daughter Chantal on her own, without any support from Philipe, her strength and resilience is tested whenever he visits, the strain only growing worse as Chantal comes of age and begins to make her own decisions.
Acclaimed director Catherine Corsini navigates a story that crosses many years and places, always guiding us with Chantal’s impeccable narration. As Rachel and Chantal grow older, undergo painful changes, they try to find out if, despite all that they underwent, whether love is indeed impossible.
Stream An Impossible Love starring Virgine Efira and Niels Schneider on ChaiFlicks.