If Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of love then it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the important people in my life who I have loved over the years and whose support and counsel saw me through both tough and not so tough times. I’m referring to the women whose friendship and support propped me up long before my dear husband arrived on the scene. In my younger years, I spent many a Valentine out on the town with my girlfriends, celebrating our single-dom and satisfied with the knowledge that we had each other. With this in mind the following films are recommendations from younger me, the younger me who rejected the notion that Valentine’s Day was intended exclusively for loved up couples and relegated the unattached to a depressing 'Bridget Jones-esque' state of despair.
Under the Tuscan Sun: In this love letter to Tuscany Diane Lane plays the role of Frances, a recently divorced writer who chances upon a run-down villa on her holiday in Italy and decides to buy it on a whim. Throwing caution to the wind Frances sets out to clean up and restore her newly acquired estate, with the help of best friend Patti (Sandra Oh) and a few new friends she meets along the way. This process helps Frances reconcile with the realities of her divorce and consequently discover a new found zest for life. The star of this tale is definitely Tuscany in all its glory, its food, its romantic sun-drenched vistas and its nod to La Dolce Vita. This film will inject the right amount of escapism back into any night.
Riding In Cars With Boys: Spanning a few decades, this story follows Beverly Donofrio (Drew Barrymore) and best friend Fay Forrester (Brittany Murphy) as they stumble through adulthood. We follow these young women through various landmark moments in their lives as they get knocked up, get married and get divorced. This all sounds depressing I know but there are some sweet and funny moments especially that between Donofrio and her young son Jason. Drew Barrymore is as usual very endearing and slightly goofy in her portrayal of Donofrio but all these traits help to create a character that we care about and feel for even when she makes naive and foolish decisions.
Pitch Perfect: Anna Kendrick cements her position as leading lady material in this feel good, uber cool musical/comedy about all-girl singing group The Bellas and the motley crew’s journey to an a cappella championship. Sampling old favourites like Blackstreet’s No Diggity (that’s one for the children of the nineties), Simple Mind’s Don’t You Forget About Me (in a shout out to all my fellow 80’s offspring) and even a catchy rendition of A.P. Carter’s When I’m gone over the beat of what can be described as cup percussion (I suppose) this film will offer the right amount of nostalgia without being schmaltzy. Throw in Rebel Wilson’s comedic timing and some snappy dialogue and you’ve got yourself a winner. This film is my top pick for a fun night in.
Bridesmaids: In this laugh out loud, sometimes even gross out comedy we follow Lillian (Maya Rudolph) who is planning her wedding as trouble arises when a rivalry between her maid of honour (Kristen Wiig) and bridesmaid (Rose Burn) develop. What ensues is a roller coaster ride of funny as the ladies face off in a series of calamitous events. With a strong supporting cast including Melissa McCarthy (in her scene stealing performance), Wendi McLendon-Covey and The Office’s Ellie Kemper this movie proves that women can bring it when it comes to creating kick ass comedy on screen.
Now And Then: produced in 1995 and featuring an all star ensemble cast including Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, Melanie Griffith, Rita Wilson and Christina Ricci this coming of age drama tells the story of 4 friends who reunite in small town USA to support one of their own through her pregnancy. During this reunion the women take a trip down memory lane, all the way to the summer of 1970 – a turning point that cemented their friendship and moulded the characters that they would become. The story unfolds as a series of extended flashbacks to the women’s preteen years; a time of self discovery and transition into womanhood. Though each of the four characters may seem to be clichéd stereotypes (there is prima donna, the tomboy, the goody two shoes and the seemingly normal one) and their experiences somewhat contrived the emotional journey these girls go through come across as sincere and are very relatable to women young and old. Told with charm and humour this film really is a celebration of friendship.