Romantic films have remained one of the most popular genres among audiences with their portrayal of love, loss, hope, and passion, making one feel emotions that can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking. But 2022 hasn’t been much of a memorable year from the perspective of films belonging to the traditional and classical romantic genre. Rather, there have been some exciting and intriguing watches that can be categorized into the various sub-genres of romantic films with some fascinating tweaks here and there, elevating the films into quite an impressive viewing experience along with some major breaking barriers of gender and social stereotypes. So, this list will try to focus on the films based on their handling of romance and be one to be devoured by all the fans of the genre and also of cinema as a whole. Furthermore, these films can be the perfect excuse to spend time with your loved ones. So, here is a list of the Best Romantic Films of 2022:
Badhaai Do (2022)
From the first look through the trailers and teaser, “Badhaai Do” (2022) seemed like a very average and generic Bollywood film, disguising its flawed filmmaking with the sermon of a social message. But the actual film proved to be quite the opposite and was a very refreshing take on gender equality, with very layered characters struggling to break the gender norms set by patriarchal society. Rather than being a caricature, “Badhaai Do” (2022) is a very sensitive and humanistic portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community and their rights, marking a major boost in representation in Indian cinema. Filmmaker Harshavardhan Kulkarni deftly manages to balance the comedic and poignant moments revolving around the themes of family, identity, and gender, which makes it a perfect heart-warming entertainer with a social message that seems very organic and not preachy. Additionally, the film displays strong performances from the lead cast, Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar, who share excellent chemistry, along with a show-stealing Sheeba Chaddha and a brilliant cameo by Gulshan Devaiah.
Bones And All (2022)
Filmmaker Luca Guadagnino delivers a compelling film, “Bones and All” (2022), through a meticulous adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’ 2015 book of the same name. This film can be interestingly classified as a horror-romance, which manages to be quite a thought-provoking film and one that may raise questions and debates among the viewers. “Bones and All” (2022) is also a love story that is kind of delicious and twisted in its own way and stands polar opposite to Guadagnino’s well-known romantic film, “Call Me By Your Name” (2017). Here, the central plot revolves around a cannibalistic love story between Maren Yearly (played exceptionally by Taylor Russell) and Lee (played by an equally brilliant Timothée Chalamet). The performances perfectly bring out the brilliant chemistry in the relationship, which can be difficult to digest for some. At the same time, “Bones and All” (2022) remains a very tender, layered, and heart-warming portrayal that revolves around the themes of love, identity, and acceptance, while also possessing the elements of a teen-romantic road trip film and even managing to excel in that zone. Furthermore, a special shoutout should also be given to Mark Rylance, who, despite having limited screen time, manages to leave a mark with his brilliant portrayal of the character Sully.
Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022)
After marking his debut with an indie comedy, “Shithouse” (2022), filmmaker Cooper Raiff follows it up with a perfectly enjoyable flick, “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (2022), making him one of the very nascent filmmakers one should keep an eye on. Through “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (2022), Raiff, who interestingly is both the director and the lead actor, delivers a very sweet, breezy, and perfectly light-hearted film that is quite reminiscent of films by Richard Linklater (the director of “The Before Trilogy”). The film centers around the coming-of-age narrative of a 22-year-old college graduate named Andrew and a very delicate and sensitive romantic plot with a 32-year-old Domino, played exceptionally by Dakota Johnson, probably delivering her finest performance to date since “Suspiria” (2018). “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (2022) remains to be that perfect sweet and simple entertainer that manages to be a very simple yet touching affair with fine use of generic tropes and conventions.
Decision To Leave (2022)
Premiering at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, this film marks the return of one of the finest contemporary filmmakers, and a frontrunner of the Korean New Wave of filmmakers, Park Chan-wook. He is widely known for his school of cinema that relies on various extremes, whether from a storytelling or an aesthetical perspective, with highly twisted narratives along with a fair share of violent and sexually explicit imagery that is designed to make one feel unnerved or disturbed. Here, a very different Park Chan-wook is seen altogether, mainly due to a different approach taken by him in order to handle the subject matter revolving around an atmospheric mystery thriller with a very intimate and brilliant core of a twisted romantic angle. “Decision to Leave” (2022) revolves around an insomniac detective, Hae-Jun, who, while investigating a suspicious death, falls for a major suspect: the mysterious wife of the victim. Although this is not a typical generic romantic film, it has probably one of the most poignant and melancholic love angles, which is further elevated to great heights due to the brilliant chemistry on display between the actors, Park Hae-il and especially Tang Wei, who, aided by the brilliant craftsmanship of Park, manages to display a seductive aura and sexual tension interestingly through a very minimalist approach without the presence of any major sex scenes of any sort, and all of this comes together to make for one hell of an intense mystery thriller.
From a personal viewpoint, witnessing this magnificently delicate and poignant film on the big screen at a film festival was one of my finest cinematic experiences of 2022. “Joyland” (2022) takes place in Lahore and majorly revolves around Haider, a dancer who falls for a transgender woman named Biba. Other than that, it also chronicles the lives of the people in his family and gives an overview of the conservative norms and shackles created by society. “Joyland” (2022) is a brilliantly layered and melancholic drama that manages to evoke very strong emotions through very subtle nuances of love and loss perfectly envisioned and directed by Saim Sadiq, which manages to have a lyrical essence that is very heart-touching and also heartbreaking, along with having no real villains, rather putting the social structures and thinking to blame. The film is further elevated to a great height by the brilliance of the writing, which manages to flesh out characters with depth, and elevated by a magnificent performance from its ensemble cast of actors, including Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, and all the other members.
Natchathiram Nagargiradhu (2022)
Pa. Ranjith remains one of the most powerful voices of Indian cinema, and although he has given a few duds, he remains uncompromising in his approach, especially in his progressive politics, and acts as a very ferocious voice of dissent with his major contributions to the cinematic apparatus. After making a few misfires with the superstar Rajnikanth, Pa. Ranjith returned with a brilliant “Sarpatta Parambarai” (2021) and further elevated his oeuvre with the follow-up 2022 film, “Natchathiram Nagargiradhu,” which breaks the shackles of filmmaking to become one of the most unique films from India, not only from a narrative aspect but also from the use of cinematic grammar, perfectly blending it with a musical and having a theatrical essence. It can’t just be merely bracketed as a romantic film, and it goes beyond that. He explores one of the major aspects that romantic films tend to shy away from or casually avoid: the politics of love and the concept of love through the prism of caste, gender, and societal biases, and he showcases its very real existence in modern society.
Other than the abovementioned films, a special shoutout should be given to the magnificent “Everything Everywhere All At Once” (2022), which, even though it is not a full-fledged romantic drama, has one of the finest romantic scenes and moments from the previous year through the brilliant performances and the chemistry of Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, along with a mind-blowing cinematic prowess showcased by the director-duo of Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan. Other than these, here is another list of special mentions that one may try out for their love of the romantic genre: “Spoiler Alert” (2022), “The Blue Caftan” (2022), “Good Luck To You, Leo Grande” (2022), “Bros” (2022), “Entergalactic” (2022), “Hridayam” (2022), “Girl Picture” (2022), and “Laal Singh Chaddha” (2022).