Scintillating Romantic Film Scores to Seduce You This Valentine’s Day
Don’t let romantic films give you the ick, it’s time to stare straight into the eyes of seven film choices.
From family-suitable flicks to risque romps, there’s sure to be a film with a soundtrack here that’ll get your heart racing – or make you feel all mushy inside.
In no particular order…
‘DRIVE’ (2011), DIRECTED BY NICOLAS WINDING REFN
Nothing says love like a high-octane action film involving a heist, elevator scenes with varying degrees of violence and lust – and as the title suggests, a lot of driving.
Cliff Martinez underscores this neo-noir film with zestful synths and stomach-rumbling basslines.
The ambient electronica punctures key moments, and wraps the sparse dialogue in a richly retro blanket.
It’s a soundtrack that’s pinned to the action like another character, possibly as Martinez was given the final cut to work off, and only five weeks to compose, giving it a sense of urgency and focus.
There are a few stand-alone songs, including Electric Youth’s “A Real Hero”, Chromatic’s “Tick Of The Clock” and the iconic “Nightcall” from Kavinsky. All of them working alongside Gosling and Mulligan’s chemistry, to create a pacy, but emotion-lead piece of cinema.
‘LOVE AND BASKETBALL’ (2000), DIRECTED BY GINA PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD
After a tumultuous friendship, two young basketball players slowly fall for each other on the playing field of adolescence. It’s a soulful film about ambition and drive just as it is about young love, with a seriously satisfying soundtrack.
Topping the “Independent Album” charts, this contemporary hip-hop soundtrack is rife with R&B stars of the day – Al Green, Chaka Kahn, Lucy Pearl, Marvin Gaye and Johnny Kemp, just to name a few.
It builds the world perfectly, as Guy’s “I Like” underscores a scene rife with playful tension, and Maxwell’s cover of “This Woman’s Work” adds a level of emotion to an already tear-jerking scene.
Gina Prince-Bythewood’s candid direction balances high-energy with heartfelt romance to deliver a seminal film with a tender soundtrack.
‘THE CORPSE BRIDE’ (2005), DIRECTED BY TIM BURTON
Halloween meets Valentine’s Day and together, they make a spooky but sweet stop-motion musical with breath-taking visuals.
When Victor practices his wedding vows in a graveyard, he accidentally brings a bride back from the dead, and so the rotten love story begins.
Danny Elfman delivers a cleverly-crafted score with sweeping strings and catchy lyrics. The stellar cast breathes life into the funny, moving and fantastical numbers, driving the plot forward with each song.
The iconic “Victor’s Piano Solo” has a haunting reprise, full of melancholy, while “The Finale” is a story in its own right, told through the chorus that gently rises to a rousing crescendo.
Tim Burton has gifted us a superb romantic animation for the whole family that really puts a new meaning on “till death do us part”…
‘Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN’ (2001), DIRECTED BY ALFONSO CUARON
Turn up the heat with this racy and influential film, following a taboo-breaking love triangle as the two seventeen-year-old boys, and gorgeous older woman embark on a road trip across Mexico.
The lively soundtrack ranges from gently rebellious alternative hip-hop to modern mariachi, and perfectly encapsulates the risque and rebellious mood of the film.
Stars of the South-American scene, like Camilo Lara and Marco Antonio Solís, meet the experimental noughties, from Natalie Imbruglia to Brian Eno. Additionally, make way for some perfectly placed Senor Coconut and Frank Zappa tracks.
It’s more evocative than erotic, and set against the backdrop of a newly democratic society after seventy years under the rule of a repressive government, sometimes makes for a hard watch.
‘CHOCOLAT’ (2001), DIRECTED BY LASSE HALLSTROM
In 1959, Vianne moves to a remote French village to open up a chocolate shop with her young daughter.
Her modern ways at first perturb the dusty villagers, but with help from sexy, swarthy outsider, Roux, everyone realises that change can be good. This film proves that chocolate really can solve everything.
It’s comforting and quietly seductive, but it’s the score (by Rachel Portman) that really shines.
Each one is a distinctly well-crafted track, from the suspenseful “Vianne Confronts The Comte” to the jaunty “Party Preparations”.
Portman embraces the Chanson Francaise style through her gently undulating wind instruments and commanding melodies, perfectly demonstrated in the title tune, “Minor Swing”.
Make sure to watch this cosy film with a cornucopia of chocolates on your lap.
‘FRANCES HA’ (2012), DIRECTED BY NOAH BAUMBACH
Frances Ha captures the ongoing struggle of trying to make a name for yourself in a career that has become increasingly hard to penetrate. It’s a real feel-good film with endearing characters who exist in a believable world; a perfect addition to your self-care Valentine plans.
Like the film, the soundtrack is short and fun, with quintessential tracks from Hot Chocolate, T.Rex and David Bowie.
There are multiple tracks from Georges Delerue, perhaps a nod to French new-wave cinema with his playful waltzes that perfectly fit with the whimsical atmosphere.
It’s an utterly joyous film with a sparkling soundtrack that compliments the charismatic lead as she literally dances her way through New York.
‘MOONLIGHT’ (2016), DIRECTED BY BARRY JENKINS
This Academy Award winning film looks at Chiron, a young, black man living and growing up in Miami. Through three defining points in his life, we watch him find his identity through his experiences within the tight-knit community.
Nicholas Britell works his magic with a touching and supportive score to this courageous piece of cinema.
His signature major into minor chord progressions and emotive strings heard in “End Credits Suite” and “You Don’t Even Know”, do wonders in evoking a sense of discovery.
The original score is peppered with atmospheric hip-hop and blues singles from Goodie Mob, Aretha Franklin and Barbara Lewis.
It might not be exclusively about romance, but Moonlight is a perfect Valentine’s film that explores many types of love and compassion.
Elevate the way you listen to these romantic film soundtracks with KEF
Writer | Tallulah Boote Bond
Tallulah is a London-based music journalist, actor and playwright who has written for The Line of Best Fit, Last Bus Magazine and Moonhood Magazine. She has a feature film in development and was upset when she learnt that it wasn’t her job to choose music for her scripts.