Love Actually

Love Actually

Love Actually has officially been named the nation’s most romantic movie, producing the strongest neurological and psychological response in film fans, according to new research conducted for Valentine’s Day.

To help Brits create the perfect movie-night-in on 14th February, LOVEFiLM worked with neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis of Mind Lab International to analyse Brits’ top ten romantic film choices to determine the movie most likely to put viewers in the mood for love.

Dr Lewis explains: "Specialised neurons in the brain called mirror neurons fire in response to witnessing the activity of others.

"So if an on-screen couple shares a passionate kiss, the mirror neurons in the viewers’ heads will fire as if they were doing the kissing. They will experience the same powerful and pleasurable emotions that are being depicted on screen.

"Increased levels of ‘fight or flight’ hormone adrenaline, triggered when watching a film, can also heighten levels of sexual attraction and excitement.

"When a couple watch a romance together each person mistakenly attributes a part of the adrenalin buzz produced by the film to the presence of their partner. Couples are far more likely to touch, hold, hug and kiss one another than couples watching a less emotional film."

Love Actually is responsible for putting around one in five people (21 per cent) in a loving mood. According to Dr Lewis, the interplay between the various couples gives audiences multiple opportunities to empathise, while the challenges the characters overcome in the story increases the optimism viewers feel about their own relationships and their own romantic feelings.

The Notebook is compelling with 18 per cent responding to the plot. The film confronts powerful themes including fear of death and dying, generating painful feelings in the audience, but leaves them with an optimistic view of love’s enduring nature.

And although Wall-E may have been about two robots this doesn’t stop the powerful mirror neurons ‘seeing’ the story in human terms and being activated in the brains of 13 per cent of viewers.

Notting Hill presses all the right psychological buttons and gets the adrenaline going in 9 per cent of films fans. This glamorous take on love on the wrong side of the tracks works because it plays on the powerful themes of love thwarted, love denied but, ultimately, love triumphant.

The music in Dirty Dancing (8 per cent) increases the audience’s physical excitement and this arousal enhances the feelings couples have for one another when watching the movie. It wasn’t Swayze’s dancing but his pottery skills in Ghost that got a reaction from Demi Moore and the enduring theme of love after death makes 5 per cent of viewers feel something too.

Edward (Richard Gere) couldn’t help falling for Pretty Woman Vivien (Julia Roberts). There’s nothing romantic about the circumstances of their meeting but love inevitably triumphs and paints a rosy view that 4 per cent of fans find irresistible.

It isn’t just that steamy scene in Titanic that gets 3 per cent of pulses racing. Research shows that the film reminds viewers of their own mortality when watching Jack slip beneath the water which intensifies the emotions their mirror neurons experience in reality.

Jerry had Dorothy and women everywhere at ‘hello’ and 2 per cent still swoon in the presence of Jerry Maguire’s charismatic smile; but it’s one for the fellas too, who identify with the tough guy who wins the girl in the end.

Casablanca is widely regarded as one of the most romantic films ever made. It’s length and slow pace may explain why it fell to the bottom of the list but its strong emphasis on the themes of sacrifice, and the softness at the heart of Bogart’s tough character that women look for in a potential partner, is why 1 per cent of viewers can’t help but be inspired by the on-screen chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

The ten films most likely to cause a romantic response are:

1. Love Actually (21%)
2. The Notebook (18%)
3. Wall-E (13%)
4. Notting Hill (9%)
5. Dirty Dancing (8%)
6. Ghost (5%)
7. Pretty Woman (4%)
8. Titanic (3%)
9. Jerry Maguire (2%)
10. Casablanca (1%)

Helen Cowley, Editor of LOVEFiLM said: Our research shows that romantic movies can cause a romantic reaction, which is why snuggling up with a carefully-chosen film is the perfect way to spend time together this Valentine’s Day. It may even help to ensure the evening concludes in the way you’d hoped!