Film Review: Love Story (1970)

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“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”-Jennifer Cavalleri

That’s probably one of the most famous movie quotes of all time. Combined with a fantastic score and Ali McGraw’s magnetic It Girl presence, Love Story is romantic, funny, but perhaps, a little outdated for our generation.

Jennifer Cavalleri (Ali McGraw) and Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) are two Harvard students who meet and fall in love. Their courtship begins on campus and extends after graduation because it’s the Real Deal. Even hardcore cynics would agree.

He has a bit of a temper and is a terrible, terrible driver. She’s whip smart and spirited in a sarcastic way. And even though, she’s playing a character I can’t help but think this is exactly how McGraw is in real life. Her friend Candice Bergen (the evil former pageant queen in Miss Congeniality that always reminds me of Martha Stewart) once described her  as, “artistic and enchanted, with that refined, intellectual, bohemian glamour and a little bit of the Bedouin.” That’s a dead-on observation.

He comes from old money while she’s studying music on scholarship. But despite their different upbringing they have amazing rapport and you get to watch their feelings for each other begin to grow and deepen as the seasons change. Cue cheesy snow angel making montage!

But it’s not all fluff. One of the high points of the movie was the pleasantly surprising amount of profanity tossed around casually by the main stars. Which makes sense since it was made during the sexual revolution, but still, it must have been such a shock to hear their unfiltered dialogue back then.  The seemingly off-the-cuff remarks makes all the cookie cutter tropes and Rich Boy meets Small Town Girl  storyline a bit more believable and entertaining.

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And like with all of the great love stories, the older generation doesn’t approve of the match. Oliver’s father doesn’t want them to marry right out of college and refuses to pay for law school, throwing a wrench into their ideal future plans. The father-son feud adds complexity to the plot and also creates tension between Jennifer and Oliver as they struggle to make ends meet.

If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know the ending is a bit oblique, but, spoilers ahead, the nature of the illness is clarified in the book. Warning: you’ll want to buy everything McGraw wears in the movie afterwards.

I really, really want to see an Ali McGraw and Steve McQueen movie now.

Reminds me of: A Walk to Remember, Romeo and Juliet, The Notebook

[Cover Photo via elbowsonmywindowsill]

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