When we watch films about romance, we’re always sure we know how it’s going to go; after triumphing over adversity, the guy will ride off into the sunset with the girl of his dreams, the credits will roll, and everyone will be happy. But occasionally, filmmakers dare to challenge this convention, arriving at a somewhat more realistic conclusion, and one which in flouting the prescribed climax, can be uncommonly affecting and thoughtful.

Here are 9 great films that dared to challenge our preconceptions of romance in films, and are much more memorable as a result.

 

9. Big (1988)

Big is a film so loaded with charm that it could have coasted quite easily on its novel premise, of a young boy, Josh Baskin (David Moscow) who goes to a wishing machine at a carnival and wishes to be grown-up. He awakens as a 30-year-old version of himself (Tom Hanks), albeit still imbued with a childlike energy and enthusiasm for life, much to the bemusement of all the adults around him. Getting a job at a toy company, Josh soon makes acquaintance with Susan Lawrence (Elizabeth Perkins), an executive at the company who takes a liking to his free-spiritedness, and so the two embark on a romance. Most contentiously, the two do sleep together – one of the more daring elements of the film, given Josh’s “mental age” – but when the pressures of work mount up, Josh decides that he has had enough of being an adult, and wants to change back.

After Josh finally locates another wish machine, Susan realises what has happened, with Josh changing back to a child, so resolves of course that their relationship cannot continue. Josh offers her a tempting out, to change into a little girl with him, but she attests that one childhood was enough. In the film’s emotional finale, they say their goodbyes and Josh, now transformed back into a young boy – dwarfed by the adult suit he is wearing – returns home. Though Susan transforming into a young version of herself would have been sweet, this rather bittersweet finale is much more memorable, and I dare say, true to life. Though the film was firmly rooted in the supernatural, it had a lot of very real humanity, and its message – of staying young at heart – is something we can all take on board.

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This article was first posted on September 11, 2012