Rom-coms come in a handful of styles, including love-at-first-sight. Though there’s nothing wrong with those, it’s not always realistic. Sometimes love develops over time, and that buildup is part of the joy of watching a film. Whether it’s friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, or ships repeatedly passing, here are some movies with a slow-to-love tale.

1. Emma (2020)

Image Credit: Working Title Films.

Jane Austen’s novels love a gradual love or the transition from hate to love. Emma is one such film. A few actresses, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Anya Taylor-Joy, took on the infamous role. For a few, the 2020 Anya Taylor-Joy film is their favorite. The film shows a gradual progression from friends Emma and Mr. Knightley, who bicker, to the realization of love. It’s not a love-at-first-sight film.

2. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures.


10 Things I Hate About You is a hilarious, sweet, and clever tale with two characters, Kat (Julia Stiles) and Patrick (played by the late Heath Ledger), thrown together after a classmate bribes Patrick to date Kat.

One of the classic teen flicks of the 90s, filled with entertaining characters but avoids being a shallow romance, it’s worth watching to enjoy a gradual teen love. It’s an engrossing watch based on Shakespeare’s classic The Taming of the Shrew.

3. Palm Springs (2020)

Photo Credit: Limelight.

Two romance viewers list Palm Springs as a must-watch for slow-building love. An entertaining rendition of the romance with a time loop akin to Groundhog Day, the film follows two strangers who grow closer when they’re both stuck repeating the same day at a wedding. This film is surprisingly funny as they get more inventive with their endless days.

4. Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Photo Credit: Focus Features.

Pride and Prejudice is another movie based on a novel by Jane Austen, and personally, one of my favorites. The 2005 version has Keira Knightley as the sharp-tongued and observant Elizabeth Bennett, who winds up at odds with the proud and occasionally rude Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFayden). I love the banter between the pair as their feelings deepen.

5. Clueless (1995)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

As Emma is on this list, it stands to reason that a well-adapted contemporary version would be here too. In Clueless, Cher, like Emma, is wealthy and spoiled. Cher decides to show her stepbrother (played by Paul Rudd) how selfless she is by working on improving a new student, Tai.

The title comes from how both iterations of the Jane Austen character, who believe they know and observe everything, actually know very little. Hilarious and quotable today, this is still a popular film about love.

6. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment.

You’ve Got Mail reunites Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in a rom-com. Although in this movie, they are enemies. Meg Ryan’s Kathleen fights to keep her little bookstore afloat after Joe “F-O-X” Fox’s chain bookstore opens in the neighborhood.

This is back during the infamous “you’ve got mail” AOL message was all anyone heard online. Funny but also shocking, particularly when Kathleen starts verbally eviscerating Joe. Still a favorite of mine.

7. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures.

The original popular pairing of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, Sleepless in Seattle, is less comedic than their later film but incredibly sweet.

Following the loss of his spouse, Sam (Tom Hanks) relocates to Seattle accompanied by his son. The young boy, desiring companionship for his father, phones a radio program to assist Sam in finding a new wife. Overflowing with tenderness and touching “aww” moments, this film is a must-watch for enthusiasts of gradual romance.

8. While You Were Sleeping (1995)

Photo Credit: Hollywood Pictures.

Of course, if someone assumes you’re the fiance to an unconscious stranger you’ve been crushing on, you play the part. In While You Were Sleeping, ticket seller Lucy (Sandra Bullock) watches Peter (Peter Gallagher) ride the train constantly.

After an accident that lands Peter in a coma, his family assumes Lucy’s his fiance, all except Peter’s suspicious brother, Jack (Bill Pullman). As Peter remains hospitalized, Jack and Lucy grow closer. Though not precisely enemies, their love blossoms slowly in an adorable comedic fashion.

9. Pretty Woman (1990)

Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures.

Pretty Woman stands out because there were few movies tackling pairings like this. It follows a sex worker Vivian (Julia Roberts, hired by an extremely wealthy man, Edward (Richard Gere), to accompany him to events.

It is a timeless love story depicting the gradual growth of affection between two individuals who initially hold no romantic inclinations. Thanks to this film, the lyrics to “King of Wishful Thinking” by Go West still linger vividly in my memory.

10. Dead Man Down (2013)

Photo Credit: FilmDistrict.

Dead Man Down is not enemies turned lovers, but Victor (Colin Farrell) and Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) are preoccupied with revenge on different people. After observing Victor commit a murder in his apartment, Beatrice uses this information to coerce him into killing the individual who had caused her harm in a car accident through drunk driving.

There’s a lot of underlying tension here, and it feels lovely watching their feelings rise to the surface while they try to figure out what matters most.

Source: Reddit.

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