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7 romantic movies to watch on Netflix ahead of Valentine’s Day

If romantic comedies are dead, Netflix has yet to get the memo. While studios have been inching away from meet-cutes and will-they-won’t-they narratives over the past decade, the streaming giant has quietly conquered the market, reliably churning out everything from teen romps (2018’s The Kissing Booth) to frothy farces (2020’s Love Wedding Repeat).

Among the forgettable melodramas there are also plenty of hidden gems – thoroughly modern love stories with whip-smart scripts and surprises up their sleeves, many of them directed by women and featuring more diverse casts than the average ’90s weepie. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, here are seven great romantic movies on Netflix to watch right now.

The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

It’s Jessica Williams’s exuberant performance as the titular heroine of James C Strouse’s easy-going indie that transforms it from a run-of-the-mill rom-com into an utter delight. She’s a remarkably assured and hilariously frank playwright recovering from a recent split who’s set up on a blind date with a scruffy divorcé (Chris O’Dowd). Sparks fly, misunderstandings arise, and the crowd-pleasing denouement combines big laughs with genuine emotion.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Susan Johnson’s irresistible romance – as well as its Michael Fimognari-directed sequels To All The Boys: PS I Still Love You and To All The Boys: Always and Forever – is sugary sweet without being the slightest bit cloying. It follows shy teenager Lara Jean (a note-perfect Lana Condor) who writes secret letters to her crushes which her sister (Anna Cathcart) posts without telling her. Enter: Peter (Noah Centineo), one of their recipients who is intrigued and then smitten.

Set It Up (2018)

Two beleaguered personal assistants (Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell) team up in Claire Scanlon’s zippy take on a classic screwball comedy. Tired of staying late at the office to cater to the whims of their irritable bosses (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs), they hatch a plan to make them fall in love, hoping it will distract them and make their own lives easier. Romance inevitably ensues for both couples, combined with shocking set pieces, overblown slapstick, witty repartee and a winning final act.

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

When a celebrity chef (Ali Wong) returns to her native San Francisco to open a new restaurant, she runs into a childhood friend (Randall Park) whom she lost touch with after an ill-fated one-night stand. The pair reconnect, but a spanner is thrown into the works in the form of Keanu Reeves, playing a pretentious version of himself, who sweeps the former off her feet. Under Nahnatchka Khan’s direction, it’s a goofy charmer with hysterical one-liners and a keen eye for cultural detail.

Someone Great (2019)

Taylor Swift cited Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s gut-wrenching tale of love and loss as the inspiration for “Death by a Thousand Cuts”, the poignant breakup song from 2019’s Lover, which describes two people growing apart. The characters in question are Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) and Nate (Lakeith Stanfield), college sweethearts who separate after nine years. To heal, the former plans an epic night out with friends (DeWanda Wise and Brittany Snow), but secretly pines for a reconciliation.

Let It Snow (2019)

From A Christmas Prince (2017) to The Princess Switch (2018), Netflix’s festive offerings aren’t often its best, but Luke Snellin’s ensemble drama is a rare exception: an affecting small-town saga about a group of teenagers falling in and out of love on Christmas Eve. Kiernan Shipka, Shameik Moore, Isabela Merced and Odeya Rush lead the talented young cast as they go sledding, attend awkward family dinners, repair fractured friendships and party in the middle of a snowstorm.

The Half of It (2020)

A thoughtful and tender twist on Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, Alice Wu’s coming-of-age story sees bookish high-schooler Ellie (Leah Lewis) befriend Paul (Daniel Diemer), a jock who pays her to write letters on his behalf to his crush, Aster (Alexxis Lemire). As they become close, Ellie realises that she also has feelings for Aster and can’t keep deceiving her. The result is a profoundly moving examination of race, sexuality, religion and the bittersweet nature of unrequited love.

This article was originally published on Vogue UK.

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