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Literary love affairs.

literary love affairs.

Maudern Movies, a weekly series that curates films for your viewing pleasure.

It is a common joke that Hollywood loves a movie about itself—however, there is much truth to the fascination of peeking behind the curtain and telling the story of telling stories. It is why many a film has been made about the minds behind not just films but of the literary masterpieces of the last centuries and their tortured yet powerful love affairs.

From Shakespeare in Love, the fictional imagination of Shakespeare’s life and works to the wild thriller Adaptation, that follows a blocked writer producing a screenplay based on the true experience of the film’s screenwriter and a memoir by a Florida woman. From the heavy romance to the deep-seated drama and jealousy that ensue, both Reach for the Moon & Colette show the tumultuous relationships that female writers face. Lastly, Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, his novel based on the truths of Harlem in the 70s, is a powerful depiction of adversity and love. Here are five flicks that delve into literary waters—that may inspire a weekend read or romp. 

Shakespeare in Love, 1998
Directed by: John Madden
Starring: Gwenyth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Judi Dench

Focusing on the life of William Shakespeare (Fiennes) who is hopelessly filled with writer’s block and is in need of a new muse. He falls for a young aristocrat (Paltrow) and regains inspiration. Their forbidden relationship unfolds as she wants to act in his now-famous plays.

Where to watch: Amazon, Vudu

Adaptation, 2002
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper

Charlie (Cage) has been hired to write a screenplay on the real-life memoir of Susan Orlean called The Orchid Thief. His severe writer’s block and social anxiety slow his process, as his social and charming brother moves in and tries a hand at screenwriting. The twins follow Susan to Florida where her story is based and unimaginable drama ensues. When Charlie leaves Florida, he reunites with his love interest and returns to writing.

Where to watch: Amazon, Vudu

Reaching for the Moon, 2013
Directed by: Bruno Barreto
Starring: Glória Pires, Mirando Otto, Tracy Middendorf

Set in the mid-20th century, this biopic follows the love story of two women in Brazil. Poet Elizabeth Bishop (Otto) spends a passionate yet inconsistent lifetime with Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Pires). Their tragic and true love story serves as an important picture of queer love in the 1950s and 60s. 

Where to watch: Amazon, Vudu

If Beale Street Could Talk, 2018
Directed by: Barry Jenkins
Starring: Stephan James, Regina King, Kiki Layne

Based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, the story is set in the early 70s in Harlem, NY. Tish (Layne) and her fiance Fonny (Hunt) have an epic love story—having known each other since childhood. Their plans for a shared future together are interrupted as Fonny is accused and arrested for a crime that he didn’t commit.  

Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon, Vudu

Colette, 2018
Directed by: Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Eleanor Tomlinson

At the end of the 19th century, a young woman Colette (Knightley) becomes the bride of literary entrepreneur Willy (West) and moves to Paris with him. She begins to ghost-write for him and he finds great success using her voice. Colette’s marriage to Willy remains tumultuous as she fights for her ownership of the work she has produced. 

Where to watch: Amazon, Vudu