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  • Writer's pictureBeth Linton

Friends to Lovers Romance Movie Recommendations

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

I’m a romantic. No surprise there given the fact I’m a romance book author, but there’s something special about a #friendstolovers romance story. Why? Because the idea of friends falling in love is like a thick quilt of a cold winter’s night: the notion is comforting, reassuring, HOPEFUL, and, oh so possible…

Inspired by my friends to romance novel The Guardians' Trust: Ana, published with Evernight Publishing, I've found 9 friends to lovers films for your Friday night, and if you are wondering #whattowatch then help is on hand in the following categories: 3 classic movies, 4 sweet friends to lovers, and 2 steamy friends with benefits. Get the popcorn ready! 😊

Classic Movies

1 When Harry Met Sally (15)

I’m cringing a little as I enter this movie into my classic category (surely a classic means black and white?), but When Harry Met Sally is 33 years old, I’m afraid it has to go in this pile, even if it makes me feel ancient.

Most of us won’t need more than a reminder that this film exists, but for any millennials who stumble across this page, here’s what you need to know: This film is literally as much #friendstolovers as you can get. The film’s plot takes us on a journey across several years of Harry and Sally’s platonic relationship and how it turns into a relationship of true, enduring love.

This film is the opposite to the more recent ‘friends with benefits’ romance stories as the Sally, Meg Ryan, and Harry, Billy Crystal, fear that sex will ruin their friendship.

Most famous scene? Do I truly have to type it? The scene in the café where Meg acts out having an orgasm to prove her point. I still blush to this day and I write steamy scenes for a living!

2. Best Friends (PG)

As a massive fan of Goldie Hawn, I had to include this film. But let’s face it, the film deserves a spot on this friends to lovers list because of the title alone!

This 1982 production is about a screenwriting Hollywood couple (the other half of whom is played by Burt Reynolds) who decide to get married after five years of living and working together. What follows is what you’d imagine given the date and the talented cast. There is comedy, witty dialogue and occasionally touching moments as the best friends struggle to get to grasp with the new dynamics of their relationship.

Worth a watch on a Saturday afternoon with a giant bar of chocolate. As always, Goldie Hawn is compellingly watchable.

3. Emma (U)

A re-telling of Austen’s novel, I’ve popped this one goes into the classic category because of its period nature, even though it stars Gwyneth Paltrow, aka, Iron Man’s girlfriend…

I’m an Austen fan. I love all the TV series and films (except the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice staring Kiera Knightly – not her fault, she’s lovely), and yes, I’ve read most of Auten’s books. Being well versed in this world, I can honestly say that I found this film charming on my first viewing, and endearing on my fifth. This story is the classic friends to lovers tale with a dollop of coming of age. Emma is sweet, but with an edge, and gets carried away in her matchmaking efforts. Life is good, until she realises she’s in love with her best friend, a friend she may very well have just successfully set up.

Sweet Friends to Lovers Films

4. Definitely, Maybe (12A)

I’ve had to include this film as it starts Ryan Reynolds who recently bought Wrexham football club in North Wales which is just down the road. Also, the heroine is played by Rachel Weisz who I’ve had a bit of a wanna-be girl’s crush on since she stared in The Mummy – I mean, she was a librarian who could seriously rock eyeliner.

While this romance story, it is also about a father’s relationship with his daughter. Reynolds plays a political consultant who is about to get divorced. His 11 year old daughter wants him to tell her about how he met her mother, and in doing so he revisits his past relationships.

Should I watch it? Well, that depends. This film doesn’t have the usual plot for a romance. The story is told via memories of three relationships. While I’ve included this as a friends to lovers story worthy of a watch, it is worth noting that, unlike the majority of romance films, the ending of this one is left open to interpretation so lacks the traditional ‘happily ever after’.

If you want something with charm and is a little different, then go for it. But if you want a traditional friends to lovers story where the hero and heroine meet, fall in love and reach their happy ever after in a heart-warming moment of conclusion, then maybe check out the recommendations below.

5. Just Go With It (12A)

I watched this film after stumbling upon it on Netflix one rainy afternoon. Staring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, I assumed it would be a safe watch to keep me entertained – and I was right. The hero is flawed, yet sweet underneath his shallowness (as evidenced by his behaviour to the heroine’s kids). The heroine is patient (she’d have to be to put up with Sandler’s character), practical and kind.

The whole plot is far fetched and unbelievable, yet that simply doesn’t matter. I was happy to switch off and watch the events unfold.

What’s it about? The hero comes up with ridiculous plan for the heroine to act as his ex-wife so he can go after the much younger woman he thinks he wants. In the process the friends fall in love, and it is safe to assume it is real love – not the superficial kind he was pursuing – as they know each other well, warts and all.

6. The Lake House (PG)

The concept of this friends to lovers story was so sweet, I had to include it. This is a love story based around the exchange of letters – but while you might compare this film to You’ve Got Mail (also a friends to lovers!) where friends fall in love via the exchange of email, this one has a twist. A supernatural twist.

The story of the film according to the release material is: A lonely doctor (Sandra Bullock), who once lived in a beautiful lakeside home, falls in love via letters with its latest resident, a frustrated architect (Keanu Reeves). When they discover that they are living two years apart, the pair must unravel the mystery behind their incredible romance.

Should I watch it? Reviews are mixed. Some claim it to be poorly acted and far to saccharine to tolerate. Others argue that, as long as you suspend your disbelief, there is comfort and entertainment to be found in this movie. I’ll leave this one up to you.

7. Love, Rosie (15)

This story fully meets the friends to lovers criteria. The hero and heroine were childhood BFFs – tick. Friends are separated by distance and life – tick. Friends work to keep their friendship alive despite obstacles – tick. Friends fall in love – tick.

While this movie seems to have everything a lover of this trope is looking for, it didn’t go down that well. And perhaps what I’ve said above is the problem: this film is a paint by numbers version of the trope, arguably a retelling of romance films well-overdone. Overly sweet, a muddled plot a good conversation would have cleared up and rather immature characters all detract from what could have been a satisfying rom com.

However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t without any charm. There was praise for the cinematography, and set in Ireland, anyone who is sick of the Hollywood romantic comedy might enjoy a fresher setting. There is also humour which makes for a comfortable watch.

Friends with Benefits Movies

Maybe I’m getting old, but I was rather sceptical of the whole friends with benefits film trope. I love #friendstolovers, heck, I love #enemiestolovers romance stories even more, but I just wasn’t sure how including benefits within a platonic relationship could be convincing sold to an audience. Surely, the sparks would only fly if there was attraction? I’m not saying there has to be an emotional attachment for satisfying sex, but if there wasn’t even desire…? But, then again, maybe this trope really only works in romantic films and romance books, because in those fictional worlds, the best friend is always seriously hot, and therefore, ripping his or her clothes off is always a pleasure!

8. Friends With Benefits (15)

Yep, this one literally says what it’s about on the tin. Staring Mila Kunis and Justine Timberlake (is it embarrassing that I went to one of his concerts?), this rom com is about a couple who decide to, well, stay friends but have a friendship that includes sexual benefits.

The premise of the film is not new or original (if they’d only watched When Harry Met Sally, they’d know adding sex to a relationship is going to add complications) but it’s an easy watch about a couple (of friends) who just want to have fun rather than pursue a romantic relationship after too many failed attempts. If you want passive viewing and the comfort of knowing what’s going to happen from the off, then give it a go – but I preferred the next one.

9. No Strings Attached (15)

This was my first film foray into the friends with benefits trope, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed this film, although reviews are mixed and many panned it’s plot predictability – but then I watched a friends to lovers film because I wanted a friends to lovers story, and that necessitates a happily ever after ending or I’d chuck my popcorn at the screen and fire off an angry Tweet!

I think part of the reason I liked this film is because it dispensed with some of the cliched sexist tropes that can plague this genre. Instead, we were presented by a strong female character, a doctor who knew her own mind and what she wanted out of a relationship – uncomplicated sex with a friend because she is incredibly busy. Played by Natalie Portman, the heroine is both well-acted and likable because of her conviction and smarts. I also liked that it was the hero, played by Ashton Kutcher, who was the emotionally softer character.

If you know this is the genre for you then give it a watch – be warned the sex scenes are rather steamy (lovely!) so not one to watch with your daughter!

If only real life was as romantic as one of these films!

Have a great movie night!

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