Top 10 Movies Every Reylo Should Watch This December

It’s that time of year again for Reylos—those of us invested in the relationship between scavenger Jedi Rey and the fallen son of the heroes Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. The anniversary of having everything we wanted presented to us in triumph, then ripped away mere seconds later. One half of this ship, dead and unmourned. The other half is completely stripped of her wants and agency to be a vessel for the wants and wishes of ghosts. Pretty fun, right?

With late December just around the corner and the sadness at unfulfilled potential once again flowing in, we present these ten movies to chase the blues away, in between rereads of The Love Hypothesis.

1. Frozen II

Frozen II

A sequel to Disney’s hugely-popular animated musical, Frozen II follows the newly crowned Queen of Arendelle Elsa, and her sister Anna, as they investigate the truth of their past and their family’s secretive history. When a mysterious voice leads Elsa to awaken the forest’s elemental spirits, the two sisters—along with Anna’s almost-fiancé Kristoff, Olaf the snowman, and Sven the reindeer—must journey “into the unknown” to get to the bottom of things.

Frozen II is a bit of a wild card on this list. Unlike most of the others, there isn’t really a romantic aspect to it, beyond Kristoff’s determination to propose to Anna in a satisfactory way (which is, granted, very romantic). Rather, it’s Elsa’s story that makes it so perfect for fans of Reylo—and Rey in particular.

Elsa spends the whole film seeking a mysterious voice calling to her. This supposed “one [she has] been waiting for” to provide clarity, only to find by the end that the answer was within herself all along. Her powers might have originated from legacy, but the journey is hers to take and hers alone. She isn’t completing anyone else’s story, but rising to be the heroine of her own.

Streaming on Disney+

Image Credit: Disney Studios. 

2. Ophelia

Ophelia

Poor Ophelia. She really did deserve better. Based on the Lisa Klein novel of the same name, and starring Daisy Ridley as the title character, Ophelia retells the story of Hamlet but from her point of view. Much like “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”, the narrative takes place alongside the events of Shakespeare’s play, albeit with a few twists and changes along the way.

Daisy Ridley’s performance here is more understated than her three outings as Rey, but there is power in her calm. Ophelia’s life is uprooted around her, her father killed, and her secret marriage to Hamlet torn apart due to his madness. Ridley shows how Ophelia’s sanity comes apart so thoroughly at the seams, yes, but also what a woman will do to survive in a world where her options are few.

The film doesn’t have a happy ever after in the traditional sense, though it spares Ophelia from her watery fate. However, it is worth it solely for its unique design and the elegant range of performances throughout.

Streaming on Netflix (Canada)

Image Credit: IFC Films. 

3. The F Word/What If

What If

The F Word (also known as What If?) is a film both shot and set in Toronto, and stars Daniel Radcliffe as Wallace, a man rapidly falling in love with Chantry (Zoe Kazan) the perfect woman who—bad news—is already in a relationship. Not helping matters is his best friend and Chantry’s cousin Alan, played by Adam Driver, who is simply a paragon of bad advice and over-the-top mannerisms.

Though the movie isn’t strictly about Adam Driver, it is one of his few roles where he actually plays something of a romantic lead in a happy, functional relationship. Like Wallace, he meets his dream woman Nicole (Mackenzie Davis) at the same party, only they hit it off right away. Underscoring Wallace’s misery is the life cycle of Alan and Nicole’s relationship, from dating, to moving in together, to marriage.

It’s also one of the rare occasions Adam Driver gets to play a comedic role, and the only time he plays the comic relief in a rom-com, and he absolutely excels at it, his deadpan delivery nicely offsetting Daniel Radcliffe’s earnestness.

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Image Credit: F Word Productions Inc.

4. North and South

North and South

Technically, this one is a mini-series, not a movie, but it’s worth the watch all the same. This 1850’s set series, based on the Elizabeth Gaskell novel, follows Margaret Hale, a young woman who moves to an industrial town in the north of England with her family. There, they encounter John Thornton, the owner of the cotton mill which provides most of the industry to the town.

North and South is the epitome of the “grumpy meets sunshine” trope, with the prickly Thornton and sympathetic Margaret often clashing with one another. It is a commentary on conditions of the time, for the working class, for women, for those who lack privilege. Though Thornton’s beliefs might render him undesirable at first, it’s the realization that he has a heart underneath it all that starts to sway things for Margaret.

And the pining. The exquisite pining, longing looks, and passionate outbursts between Thornton and Margaret are each worth a thousand words and will make any lover of romance and romantic tropes weak in the knees.

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Image Credit: BBC One.

5. Pride & Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

This one is an obvious choice, but no less worth the mention. The story of the witty Elizabeth Bennet and the awkward and proud Mr. Darcy is one that has been told time and time again, but we are specifically recommending the 2005 adaptation starring Keira Knightly and Matthew McFayden.

Though Elizabeth and Darcy aren’t quite enemies to lovers in the way that Rey and Ben are, that hasn’t stopped Reylos from drawing parallels between the two. It certainly helps that this adaptation is not a retelling of the novel played straight and strictly faithful. Rather, it is one that gets to the romantic heart of the story, focusing on two people who want to—and should be—together but for whom timing and their own temperaments continue to be an obstacle.

Add to this a lush, cozy design, a format that feels straight out of a romance novel, and of course two snarky, awkward leads who pine for one another, and Pride & Prejudice feels like a spiritual resolution to Reylo, if not a literal one.

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Image Credit: Focus Features.

6. Knives Out

knives out KO D21 08914 R rgb scaled

From director Rian Johnson, who brought the world the Reylo magnum opus that is The Last Jedi, comes this wildly successful murder mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie. Starring Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc, with Ana de Armas as Marta, the young woman who finds herself at the heart of a murder investigation among the wealthy, eccentric Thrombey family. As is the case with sprawling, dramatic mystery stories like this, the entire cast is populated with delightfully over-the-top characters that still manage to feel like people you might actually know, rather than caricatures.

While she does share some fun banter and an enemies-to-allies-to-enemies dynamic with Ransom (Chris Evans), romance isn’t really a part of Marta’s story. Fans of Rey will appreciate the way her character – someone who seems to not matter, or if you will has “no place in the story”—slowly gains her own agency and rises to the top through her own merits. Does she have help? Yes. But she both ends her journey and embarks on a new one purely through what makes her special, and because of who she was all along. Not because a grandpa-ex-machina came along and decreed that she matters. Marta mattered all along, and Knives Out never lets you forget it.

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Image Credit: Lionsgate.

7. Howl’s Moving Castle

Studio Ghibli Movies

Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle, based on the book by Diana Wynn Jones is the story of Sophie, a young woman who is cursed by a witch to appear to be 90 years of age. Determined to find a way to break the curse, she wanders into the Wastes, and there encounters the titular moving castle, and eventually Howl himself. She hires herself on as his cleaning lady and befriends both his young apprentice Markl, and the fire demon who lives in the hearth, Calcifer. She strikes a bargain with the demon, agreeing to help free him from Howl if he will help her lift the curse.

For his part, Howl is a powerful sorcerer that kings across the land want to fight their battles for them. Not wanting to fight the war, he instead turns into a gigantic winged creature and adds chaos to the conflict. Despite one being a dramatic monster, and the other looking like a very old woman, in trying to break their respective curses, Howl and Sophie come to fall in love. Their dynamic is never tense or antagonistic, but rather stoic and removed, which makes the sweeping romantic gestures resonate that much more. Howl’s Moving Castle is a quieter entry on this list, but nevertheless beautiful and worth the watch. It’s also one of the rare occasions where the couple takes turns being the gloomy grump and the sunshine one.

Streaming on Netflix

Image Credit: Courtesy of Studio Ghibli.

8. La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast)

Beauty and the Beast

If you think about it, Reylo is really a Beauty and the Beast story. The “prince” who had everything and fell from grace. The young woman who fits in poorly with her peers. She is initially repulsed, and takes none of his guff, but then grows to care more for the monster as he does for her.

A stunning, recent adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is Christophe Gans’ 2014 French-language adaptation La Belle et la Bête, starring Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassel in the title roles.

The film is visually stunning. It is the very picture of a fairy tale come to life, with ornate sets, and absolutely breathtaking costumes. It is the aesthetic the 2017 Disney adaptation was likely trying to go for, but with the added benefit of looking lived in. The tragedy of the curse is felt in the castle and garden’s disrepair. The magic is so infused into every facet, it doesn’t ever need to be fully explained.

Seydoux and Cassel also do a fantastic job. Separately, they make their characters come to life, and together their chemistry is quiet and understated, but no less scorching than a more overt take. Arguably, the strength of it is in the subtle intensity. Finally, the ending to the film is unexpected for a Beauty and the Beast adaptation, but no less satisfying than any other.

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Image Credit: Courtesy of Pathé Distribution.

9. Raya and the Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon

Disney’s newest princess came to us a year into lockdown, and as a result, it didn’t get the attention that she absolutely deserved. Raya and the Last Dragon follows the titular Raya (an utterly delightful Kelly Marie Tran) from the Heart tribe of Kumandra, as she seeks out the last living dragon, hoping a dragon stone can reunite the five fractured tribes and revive those lost to the Druun, including Raya’s father.

When the first trailer was released, the first thought on a lot of minds was “what’s going on there?” when it came to the menacing, pseudo-seductive looks Raya and her childhood friend-turned-enemy Namaari were throwing one another. Though the movie doesn’t follow through on that potential plot point—though their energy wasn’t just limited to the trailer—it doesn’t dismiss it out of hand either. Ultimately, Raya and Namaari’s relationship is built on a foundation of trust, and redemption, and the belief that it’s never too late for anyone to atone for their mistakes, and to live long enough to meaningfully set things right

Of all the selections on this list, Raya feels like the most blatant “what could have been.”

Streaming on Disney+

Image Credit: Courtesy of Disney Studios.

10. The Last Jedi

star wars last jedi

By far the most obvious entry on this list for those who need a dose of Reylo, there is the Star Wars movie where they spend the most time together. If you’re reading this list, then we don’t need to tell you what the story is. You already know. The Last Jedi features some of the most achingly romantic imagery we see in Star Wars, and is beautiful to look at without even getting into the performances. Every interaction between Rey and Kylo is infused with equal parts hope and desperation, longing and loathing. Enemies-to-lovers at its finest.

It doesn’t even matter that this technically isn’t the “end” of the trilogy. For those inclined to watch no further, the “we have everything we need” ending is surprisingly hopeful, considering the cause is whittled down to the people on a single ship, Rey is only beginning to come into her own, and Kylo is closer to breaking than he ever has been. She might have slammed the Falcon door in his face, but the final look they exchange indicates that their bond is only growing stronger, and that door definitely isn’t closed for good.

Streaming on Disney+

Image Credit: Courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm. 

 

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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Credit: Maggie Lovitt. 


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Arezou Amin is a freelance writer with a lifelong love of Star Wars, romance, fantasy, and all things pop culture. She is the host of Space Waffles, a Star Wars-focused podcast on the Geeky Waffle network, where she also co-hosts the flagship show and writes reviews and recaps for the site.