TEXT from a friend: “Currently waiting at arrivals at Terminal 5 for J. Feel like in Love Actually at the start. Love that film!”
As does almost everyone else apparently. According to a new study into viewers’ emotional reactions, Richard Curtis’s frothy 2003 romcom (I know, can’t believe it’s that old either) is the nation’s most romantic movie.
“More romantic than Brief Encounter or Casablanca?” I hear you cry. Yes – watching Love Actually makes our hearts beat even faster than eating an entire box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day because you’re starting a diet on Monday.
Actually (love or otherwise), that’s an assumption. In reality, I don’t know exactly what affect watching the film has on our heart rate because the scientists behind the study didn’t measure that.
Instead, they examined the neurological responses of couples watching a series of romantic movies, each of which gave them different degrees of adrenaline buzz.
The Notebook, starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling as the couple facing apparently insurmountable odds (and causing rocketing sales of aloe vera-infused tissues), unsurprisingly also made the list – in second place.
Curtis makes a second appearance – with Notting Hill in fourth place, while eighties classics Dirty Dancing, Ghost and Pretty Woman find their way in there too.
Then there’s Jerry “You had me at hello” Maguire in ninth.
According to neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, of neuromarketing company Mindlab International (who carried out the research for Online movie rental firm LoveFilm), when a couple watch a romantic film together they mistakenly attribute part of the adrenaline buzz produced by the movie to the presence of their partner.
“Couples are far more likely to touch, hold, hug and kiss one another than couples watching a less emotional film,” he says.
Which would seem a lot less weird if the second title on the list wasn’t Wall-E, an animated space age tale about robots.
Hard to imagine a bit of cyborg canoodling inspiring viewers to grab their partners in a rib-crushing clinch, but when it comes to matters of the heart I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.
Casablanca lagged way behind in tenth. I can only assume the test cases’ eyes glazed over as soon as they realised it was in black and white, because. . . well, seriously?!
How did the Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman-“maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life” parting clinch fire fewer synapses than a pair of loved-up robots?
What strikes me most, is that so many of these films are about heartbreak – Ghost even begins with one.
You wouldn’t think 120 minutes of witnessing a woman in mourning would exactly liven up Valentine’s evening.
So, does watching these heart-wrenching stories make us cling tighter to our loved ones because we’re feeling a bit spicy or because the reminder that our time together is limited makes us appreciate them all the more?