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Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Photograph: Neon Pictures"Portrait of a Lady on Fire"

The 25 best romantic films on Netflix UK

Whether you're in the mood for a lite rom-com or a smouldering period of passion, Netflix is here to give you the feels.

Matthew Singer
Written by
Andy Kryza
Written by
Matthew Singer
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The quickest way to a person’s heart is through a movie – after all, it’s called ‘Netflix and chill’ for a reason. But cinematic romance doesn’t follow any single path to get there. Some get the tears flowing, some punch you right in the gut, while others get straight to the point and aim below the belt. Like any relationship, some romantic movies are funny, others are steamy, and a few are all things at once. In the UK, Netflix includes a little bit of everything under the umbrella category of ‘romance’. Whether you’re looking for something modern and weepy, something dressed in period-appropriate costumes, something light and silly or something more challenging, it’s possible to find them streaming, if you know what to look for. Here are our picks for the 25 best romantic films streaming right now on Netflix in the UK.

Recommended:

😍 The 100 best romantic films of all-time 
🥰 The 70 best romcoms of all-time
😳 The 35 steamiest erotic thrillers
🤗 The best feelgood movies on Netflix UK  

The most romantic movies on Netflix UK

Once (2007)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Even if just reading the phrase “indie folk” makes your teeth ache, it’s hard to resist this humble, diegetic indie-folk musical about two unnamed musicians who fall (slowly) into a fleeting emotional love affair that goes largely unspoken, but not unsung. Unassuming as it is, the movie charmed audiences far beyond its meager budget, spawning a stage play, earning an Oscar for Best Original Song and turning leads Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova into stars - and, briefly, a real-life couple.

2. To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)

To deal with her intense crushes, Lara Jean (Lana Condor) writes secret love letters to the boys she lusts after, which no one is ever meant to see. Of course these letters end up being sent out and Lara Jean must deal with her feelings, and the implications of the letters, head on.

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  • Film
  • Romance

Luca Guadagnino’s queer coming of age story is equal parts smart, tender and smouldering. Timothee Chalamet excels as Elio, a 17-year-old American boy discovering his sexuality while spending summer in 1980s Italy. Armie Hammer plays the 24-year-old object of his affection, but the rather unpleasant revelations about him that came to light afterward can’t retroactively spoil what’s ultimately a deeply affecting movie about teenage self-acceptance.

  • Film

What if Total Recall was a romcom that looked like a Bjork video? That’s the easiest way to describe this Michel Gondry-Charlie Kaufman collab, but as with anything those two do, ‘easy’ is relative. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are exes who undergo a procedure to erase the memory of their relationship, but the former’s mind won’t allow him to fully let go of the latter. Like most Kaufman projects, it’s a mind puzzle that feels like it’s twisting your brain as you watch, but unlike a lot of them, the emotion transcends the twists.

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Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
  • Film
  • Drama

Its frank depictions of lesbian sex grabbed the most attention, but it’s the intimate moments outside the sheets that make Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or winner - chronicling a relationship between two French women, from their teenage years into early adulthood - worth its three-hour runtime.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Drama
  • Recommended

A smart, smouldering period piece, French director Céline Sciamma’s romantic drama is the definition of a modern classic. It involves an 18th century aristocrat (Adele Haenel) who finds herself developing feelings for the artist (Noémie Merlant) commissioned to paint her official portrait. It’s the most recent film to place on Sight & Sound’s critics poll of the greatest films of all-time, landing at number 30. That might set expectations fairly high, but trust us: it meets them – and then some.  

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  • Film

A decade after Broadcast News, director James L Brooks triumphed with another ‘romcom for adults,’ this time starring Jack Nicholson as a cranky novelist who has his cold exterior melted by a single mother, played by Helen Hunt. Both Nicholson and Hunt won Oscars for their roles, and they were well deserved.

She's Gotta Have It (1986)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Indundated with prospective partners? Hinge melting down? Take a leaf out of Nola Darling’s (Tracy Camilla Johns) book as she figures out which – if any – of the three men in her life to settle down with. Spike Lee’s lo-fi, black and white charmer is an indie classic and a still-modern-feeling romance about monogamy, polyamorousness and everything in between.

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  • Film
  • Drama

Jane Austen’s enduring novel of manners has been adapted to screen numerous times, both directly and indirectly. But for a certain generation, this is the definitive version, and Matthew Macfadyen is the one true Mr. Darcy - which is hard to square with his current role as Tom Wambsgans on Succession, but that’s why they call it “acting.”  

10. The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

Jessica Williams and Chris O’Dowd are recent dumpees set up on a blind date who find themselves forging a deep connection despite not having gotten over their respective past relationships. It’s really that simple, but the story pops due to the chemistry and charisma of the two leads, in particular Williams, who really should be a bigger star by now. 

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Warm Bodies (2013)
  • Film
  • Horror

Call it ‘Romero and Juliet.’ In this post-apocalyptic romcom, a zombie (Nicholas Hoult, still handsome if a bit pale) falls in love with the daughter of the military leader leading the charge against the undead. Sounds like silly fun, and it is, but it’s also a truly unique take on the various genres it mashes together, replacing blood and guts with genuine heart.

12. Always Be My Maybe (2019)

Ali Wong and Randall Park star in this brilliant Netflix Original romantic comedy about two childhood friends who lose touch after a teenage fling turns sour, only to be reunited in adulthood. It traverses familiar romcom territory, sure, but it does so well and in such a relaxed manner that you don’t mind any retreading. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a show-stealing cameo from Keanu Reeves.

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  • Film

Ang Lee directed this adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, with a screenplay written by Emma Thompson. Thompson also stars as Elinor Dashwood, the oldest of three sisters whose lives are upended after the sudden death of their father. Left with a paltry inheritance, the siblings are forced to look for financial security through marriage and… well, their most eligible suitors leave something to be desired. 

  • Film
  • Drama

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: an awkward teenager dreams of skipping straight to adulthood, then awakens one morning to find their adolescent brain magically transferred into the body of a full-grown thirtysomething. If that sounds familiar, well, that’s because it’s also the plot of 1988’s Big. But this gender-flipped take, starring sweetly funny Jennifer Garner, ended up an equal generational touchstone for millennials – and the added time-travel element made the romantic elements come off a bit less creepy. 

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  • Film
  • Drama

Having become a sleepover rite of passage, it’s easy to forget that Dirty Dancing isn’t just 90 minutes of pelvic grinds, watermelons and babies in corners. Dirty Dancing is dark. This is a film in which Patrick Swayze plays an older dance instructor with a storied history of hooking up with his young students… and who himself laments his status as a sex toy for vacationing cougars. It is a film in which a teenager girl (Jennifer Grey) falls in love with an older guy while trying to raise money for another woman’s back-alley abortion. Yet by the moment ‘(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life’ plays, that darkness is miraculously overwhelmed by two megawatt stars ripping up the dance floor.

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