The first trailer for Rivals, the film that will place Zendaya in the middle of a love and tennis trio, has lit a spark among digital cinephiles. On the occasion of the premiere of the long-awaited film, which will be screened at this year’s Venice International Film Festival, we review some of the most memorable love triangles in the history of cinema.
1. Rivals: Directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name), a master in the representation of repressed desire, Zendaya gives us one of the first adult roles of her career after triumphing as a teen idol. In the film, which will premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September, she plays a professional athlete who suffers a career-ending injury. She must choose to go on with her current partner (Mike Faist) or return to the arms of her ex, the celebrated Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles in The Crown).
2. Casablanca: Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris, and viewers will always have Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman when we need someone to remind us that sometimes even the most unforgettable romances are impossible to recover. 80 years after its release, Rick’s sacrifice to help his great love and her partner, resistance hero Victor Laszlo, escape from the Nazis is as exciting as the first time.
3. The Notebook: First their families, then the war, then a man named Lon (James Marsden) got in the way of the romantic fate of Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) in this syrupy classic.
4. The Dreamers: Luca Guadagnino cited Bernardo Bertolucci as one of his cinematic influences. The trailer of Rivals shows the Italian master’s clear influence on the intimate scenes of the starring trio. But until it reaches the big screen, few films in the last two decades have surpassed the chemistry, suggestive eroticism and charming provocation of Eva Green, Michael Pitt and Louis Garrel in this cult film.
5. Love Actually: Now a holiday tradition, there is no Christmas without drunk distant relatives and the signs that Mark (Andrew Lincoln) shows Juliet (Keira Knightley) — without his friend Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) finding out — in one of the most-remembered scenes from Love Actually. We never get tired of watching it because, as you know, “To me, you are perfect.”
6. The Apartment: Ranked as the best comedy in the history of cinema, the film introduces us to C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon), a solitary office worker who leaves his apartment keys to his higher-ups to use for their trysts. The trouble comes when Baxter falls in love with Miss Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), an elevator operator who turns out to also be the lover of one of those bosses (Fred MacMurray). The favorite movie of Carlos Boyero and half of cinephile Twitter.
7. My Best Friend’s Wedding: Julia Roberts or Cameron Diaz? Therein lies the arduous dilemma that Dermot Mulroney faces in the three days before his wedding. The charming comedy turned Julia Roberts into the official girlfriend of Planet Earth. The restaurant scene in which the guests sing I Say A Little Prayer is an unforgettable image of nineties film.
8. The Graduate: One of the most fascinating, controversial and defining triangles of a generation was this one, involving Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman), the college student rescued from his existential crisis by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), a broken, frustrated and capricious woman. But everything changes when the young man meets his lover’s daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) and falls hopelessly in love with her. The sound of silence (its soundtrack is unforgettable) still makes an impact on viewers 55 years after its release.
9. Twilight: Team Edward or Team Jacob. For five long years, Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) and millennial adolescents the world over had to choose between the sensitive vampires led by Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen) and the muscular werewolves of Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black). In 2023, given their respective professional paths, it seems Pattinson has won the battle.
10. Law of Desire: Eusebio Poncela, Micky Molina and Antonio Banderas — in one of his first great roles on the big screen — gave life to an obsessive, provocative and melodramatic triangle in the context of the film industry. This seminal work by Pedro Almodóvar unabashedly explores gay love.
11. Titanic: If we had to classify the triangle at the center of the most successful film of the last half-century, we would call it isosceles, due to the notable disparity of one of its sides. Not one of the hundreds of millions of viewers of Titanic has questioned Rose’s (Kate Winslet) decision to choose the intrepid dreamer Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) above her fiancé, the wealthy and selfish Cal (Billy Zane).
12. Vicky Cristina Barcelona: After the success of Match Point, Woody Allen repeated the movement with Scarlett Johansson, but this time betting on a lighter romance with Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz as the new points of the triangle. The result is far from a masterpiece, but the role won the Spanish actress her first statuette.
13. Jules and Jim: A key work of the French new wave, François Truffaut offers a sweet and optimistic tribute to love and friendship. The film tells the story of two Bohemian writers (Oskar Werner and Henri Serre) with different luck in their relationships, who see how their friendship is impacted after falling in love with the same woman (Jeanne Moreau).
14. Gone with the Wind: The emotional ups and downs of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) the passionate heiress of a southern plantation, between the already-engaged Ashley (Leslie Howard) and the cynical Rhett (Clark Gable), gives shape to the love triangle that sets off the action in the most-viewed work in the history of film.
15. Reality Bites: In this nihilistic portrait of Generation X, the production assistant played by Winona Ryder is forced to choose between Troy (Ethan Hawke), epitome of the grunge spirit, and Michael, who represents yuppie culture of the era.
16. Y Tu Mamá También: A story about the sexual awakening of two friends (played by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna) that embark on an aimless trip along with a depressed Spanish woman (Maribel Verdú). Released in 2001, the film was a critical and public success that launched the careers of the actors and the director, Alfonso Cuarón.
17. The Favourite: One of the latest and most exciting works in the genre, created by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, premiered in 2018. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman, who won the Oscar for Best Actress thanks to the role) is the target of seduction attempts by her confidant Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and the new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone).
18. Bridget Jones’ Diary: The most intimate confessions of the single thirty-something played by Renée Zellweger, and the charisma of romcom totems Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, turned the British bestseller into an international box office hit with a fourth episode now in the making.
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