Romance films (or romance movies) are romantic love stories recorded in visual media for broadcast in theaters and on television that focus on passion, emotion, and the affectionate romantic involvement of the main characters and the journey that their genuinely strong, true and pure romantic love takes them through dating, courtship or marriage. Romance films make the romantic love story or the search for strong and pure love and romance the main plot focus. Occasionally, romance lovers face obstacles such as finances, physical illness, various forms of discrimination, psychological restraints or family that threaten to break their union of love. As in all quite strong, deep, and close romantic relationships, tensions of day-to-day life, temptations (of infidelity), and differences in compatibility enter into the plots of romantic films.
Romantic films often explore the essential themes of love at first sight, young with older love, unrequited romantic love, obsessive love, sentimental love, spiritual love, forbidden love/romance, platonic love, sexual and passionate love, sacrificial love, explosive and destructive love, and tragic love. Romantic films serve as great escapes and fantasies for viewers, especially if the two people finally overcome their difficulties, declare their love, and experience life "happily ever after", implied by a reunion and final kiss. In romantic television series, the development of such romantic relationships may play out over many episodes, and different characters may become intertwined in different romantic arcs.
- Romantic drama usually revolves around an obstacle which prevents deep and true romantic love between two people. Music is often employed to indicate the emotional mood, creating an atmosphere of greater insulation for the couple. The conclusion of a romantic drama typically does not indicate whether a marriage will occur. Some examples of romantic drama films are The Bridges of Madison County, The English Patient, Falling in Love, Casablanca, Memoirs Of A Geisha, Last Tango in Paris, Water for Elephants, A Walk to Remember and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.
- Chick flick is a term often associated with romance films as many are targeted to a female audience. Although many romance films may be targeted at women, this is not a defining characteristic of a romance film and a chick flick does not necessarily have a romance as a central theme, revolve around the romantic involvement of characters or even contain a romantic relationship. As such, the terms cannot be used interchangeably. Films of this genre include Dirty Dancing, The Notebook, Dear John, A Walk to Remember, and Romeo + Juliet.
- Romantic comedies are films with light-hearted, humorous plotlines, centered on romantic ideals such as that true love is able to surmount most obstacles. Humour in such films tends to be of a verbal, low-key variety or situational, as opposed to slapstick. Films within this genre include, Love Actually, Moonstruck, As Good as It Gets, Something's Gotta Give, It Happened One Night, When Harry Met Sally..., The Family Stone, It's Complicated, Three to Tango, 27 Dresses, and The Holiday.
- Romantic action comedies are films that blend romantic comedy and action. Examples include Killers, Knight and Day, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, This Means War and The Bounty Hunter.
- Romantic thriller is a genre of film which has a storyline combining elements of the romance film and the thriller genre. Some examples of romantic thriller films are The Adjustment Bureau, The Phantom of the Opera, The Tourist, The Bodyguard, Unfaithful, and Wicker Park.
- List of romance films
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions
- Romantic comedy film
- Drama film
- Interracial romance film
- Romance novel
- Romantic love
- True love
- Dixon, Wheeler W. (2000), Film genre 2000: new critical essays, The SUNY series, cultural studies in cinema/video, SUNY Press, p. 238, ISBN 0-7914-4514-3
- Simpson, John, ed. (2009). Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, on CD-ROM Version 4.0. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-956383-8.
- Stevenson, Angus; Lindberg, Christine A., eds. (2010). New Oxford American Dictionary, Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 300. ISBN 978-0-19-539288-3.