I do so love a good makeover story. A physical makeover is fun and makes decent (if predictable via its inevitable montage sequence) cinema. When it’s about interior shifts and lessons, then it makes for divine cinema.
Bread and Tulips
A film about a middle-aged housewife who finds herself taking an unexpected turn in life. Given that this has a cheating husband, a plumber-turned-detective, and a holistic masseuse, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a screwball comedy, but it has so much heart, I feel happy just to have engaged with it for two hours. In Italian and set in magical Venice.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The quintessential reinvention film story (well, this and My Fair Lady, but I’m not always in the mood for musicals). As often with these things, the film didn’t make as much of a splash at the time of its release, but has since become every woman’s go-to film for tips on glamour and style. Oh wait, am I the only one who approves of her bare apartment and drinking milk out of a champagne glass? Audrey shines as always, as does her famous Givenchy wardrobe.
Toni Colette, who is otherwise one of the most beautiful women in the world, plays the deeply uncool, overweight and compulsive liar, Muriel. Without getting saccharine, this is a coming-of-age story that is unapologetic, truthful and heartfelt.
The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee
This film is funny, wise, and avoids pat answers. With mesmerising performances by Robin Wright and Blake Lively, an ensemble cast including Alan Arkin, and written and directed by Rebecca Miller.
Thelma & Louise
A modern classic, as far as I’m concerned. Two friends go on the ride of their life. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are both equally unforgettable in the leads, while Harvey Keitel and a young Brad Pitt offer perfect support.
To Sir, With Love
Sidney Poitier comes to teach at a rough East End school in late 1960s’ London. One of the original inspirational-teacher stories, Poitier is the embodiment of integrity and cool. This film also has my favourite dance scene of all time, with Poitier and Judy Geeson at the school dance towards the end of the film.
- It’s a Wonderful Life (above) What would happen if you didn’t get this life at all?
- My Beautiful Laundrette A film that changed the direction of my life.
- Y Tu Mamá También Two teenage boys in Mexico go on a road trip with an older Spanish woman, and get (graphic) sex, surprises and lessons on growing up.
- Moonstruck A charmer of a story about finding love by eschewing what seems ‘inevitable’ or ‘fated’ about our lives, and embracing the messiness of it all instead – plus, it has a nifty makeover for Cher.
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind What happens when you want to erase your past?
• Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons