You can't beat a bit of love and romance on the big screen... and we have been treated to a whole host of different love stories in 2015.



Some have been the conventional boy meets girl and some have been love in the face of adversity but all of them have had the power to touch our hearts. And we are going to be treated to another this week in the form of the already critically acclaimed Carol.

To celebrate the release of Carol - which sees Cate Blanchett star alongside Rooney Mara - we take a look at some of the movies that have explored the themes of love and romance in 2015.

- Testament of Youth

It was back in January when Testament of Youth hit the big screen and was an adaptation of the autobiography by Vera Brittain, which charted her coming of age during the First World War. This is a story of love and loss and how it changed Brittain forever.

Testament of Youth is widely regarded as one of the best pieces of feminist literature as it looks at the First World War from a woman's perspective - something that is not often done.

While Testament of Youth is a story about war, romance and love are at its core as the war had devastating and truly heart-breaking consequences from Brittain. Alicia Vikander take on the central role of Vera Brittain, a woman who refused to sit idly by during the war and served as a nurse in London, Malta and France.

Kit Harington plays Vera's fiancé Roland, who is sent to fight on the frontline with Vera's brother Edward and friend Victor. Victor and Vera are a young couple who are dreaming about a future together when war breaks out and their future is changed forever.

Testament of Youth is a look at one person's war experience, the scars it left behind and the devastating personal loss that she suffered. It is a movie that mixes love and war that results in a powerful and heart-breaking film. This is war from a very different point of view and it will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

Testament of Youth

- Cinderella

Cinderella is one of the greatest Disney love stories of all time and it got a live-action remake earlier this year. Kenneth Branagh returned to the director's chair to deliver a traditional take on a story with know so well that also had a modern feel to it.

Lily James is nothing but captivating in the title role - this is the film that has really sent her star rocketing - and she and Richard Madden have such wonderful chemistry together.

There is something so innocent and charming about their romance, which crescendos into that beautiful ballroom scene. Cinderella in the blue dress dancing with the Prince is one of the story's most iconic moments and this new adaptation doesn't disappoint.

Of course, the path of true love never does run smooth and Cate Blanchett is wonderful as the evil stepmother, who plans to ruin Cinderella's happy future forever. It is not often that we see Blanchett take on villainous roles and the Oscar winner really does shine.

As with most Disney movies, love conquers all and it is a wonderful end to a great love story. Cinderella is one of the best and most visually stunning movies of the year and is a great adaptation of such a well-loved classic.


- Love Is Strange

When it comes to movie love stories, Love Is Strange is one of my favourites this year. I did not know when to expect when I sat down to watch the film, which is directed by Ira Sachs and star John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in the central roles of married couple Ben and George.

However, married life doesn't run smoothly for the couple as Ben is fired from his job, forcing them to sell their apartment and live separately until they can afford a new home.

Love Is Strange is one of the most beautiful films of love and devotion that you are ever likely to see, with John Lithgow and Alfred Molina on top form in the central roles of Ben and George. I have been huge fans of both Lithgow and Molina for many years and they have delivered some wonderful performances during their careers - however, Love is Strange is quite possibly their finest work to date.

Couple that with a director that understands relationships and really knows how to capture them on film, and you are ally on to a truly wonderful winner. Sachs has delivered a funny, intimate, and touching portrayal of love with this film, as we see the couple in the good times as well as the bad.

For me, Love Is Strange hit all the right notes and wasn't laden with false sentiment. It is a universal story that will touch the heart of every and all audience members. It really was a gem of a film.

Love Is Strange

- Far From the Madding Crowd

We are huge fans of Carey Mulligan here at FemaleFirst and she took on the role of literary heroine Bathsheba Everdene in an adaptation of Far From The Madding Crowd.

Independent Bathsheba attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor. But will her heart be swayed by any of them.

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg, Far From The Madding Crowd is a beautiful looking movie and Mulligan was just the perfect choice to tackle the complex and interesting Bathsheba; a strong woman who can more than take care of herself.

There are three strands to the love story in Far From the Madding Crowd and it is the relationship between Bathsheba and Gabriel that I enjoyed the most. Both Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts are fantastic and the chemistry between them is incredibly subtle - but it works beautifully.

Bathsheba may be the film's heroine but she is a character that does make mistakes along the way and is seduced by lust. By the closing credits, Bathsheba is true to herself and her heart and admits - really for the first time - that she does need someone. A great and touching end to a very fine adaptation.

Far From the Madding Crowd

- Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a movie that has been winning over audiences and critics ever since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of the year. Saoirse Ronan has been praised for her central performance and is could well be in the Oscar mix come the beginning of next year - the film may also find itself in the running as well.

Based on the novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn is a coming of age tale as Eilis Lacey sets off for a new life in New York - leaving her family, friends, and the only life she has ever known behind in Ireland.

New York is a voyage of discovery for Eilis, who falls in love for the first time. But tragedy strikes when she is called back home after the death of her sister. Where does her future now lie?

It is a powerful performance from Ronan who takes on the role of Eilis - a young woman who is trying to find her way and place in the world. It is a terrific character study of a woman caught between two different lives; the one at home in Ireland with her family and the freedom that New York offers her. Despite pressures from all sides only she can decide where her life and heart truly lies.

Crowley really has delivered a gem of a movie that mix drama, humour and emotion, while having a big heart and packed with bucket loads of charm. He has captured the 1950s beautifully and wonderfully contrasts Ireland with the glitz and glamour of New York. There's something crisp, clean and incredibly classic about the look of the film - it really is a beautiful looking movie.


- Carol

Carol is another film that just about everyone has been talking and raving about this autumn. The movie is an adaptation of the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith and sees Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara take on the central roles of Carol and Therese.

A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Mara) is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens.

While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) threatens her competence as a mother when Carol's involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) comes to light. As Carol leaves the comfort of home to travel with Therese, an internal journey of self-discovery coincides with her new sense of space.

Carol is already being called one of the best love stories of the year as Blanchett and Mara's central performances are winning rave reviews. Carol has been tipped as a major Oscar contender for some time and I think we are going to see the film, Blanchett, and Mara all in the mix when the nominations are announced at the beginning of 2016.


Other romance movies that have hit the big screen this year include The Age of Adaline, Paper Towns, and Man Up.

Carol is released 27th November.

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