Romance

The Best Movies About Forbidden Love  

Ranker Film
1.2k votes 166 voters 10.3k views 61 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite films about couples kept apart by forces out of their control.

What is it about forbidden love movies? Why are they so engrossing and why do they seem to strike a chord across all cultures and periods of history?

Perhaps it's because we can identify with that kind of yearning, even if we don't have those restrictions in our own lives. We've all wanted something we can't have, whether that's a partner, a promotion, or even a different kind of life. Desire like that leads to fantasy, and what is a movie but a fantasy at 24 frames per second? Here the greatest films about forbidden love, doomed affairs, failed flings, lovers on the run, and star-crossed romances.

The best forbidden love movies, whether they're old or recent, transport us to a world of romance and drama. No wonder so many of them are period pieces or take place in exotic locales. Remember, even the Italian setting of Romeo and Juliet would have been exotic to Shakespeare's audience.

So close the blinds, light a candle and pick out a bottle of your most decadent and luxurious wine. Vote for your favorite movies with forbidden love and don't forget to add anything we've missed!

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26
The Burning Plain is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger
The Burning Plain is a 2008/2009 drama film directed and written by Guillermo Arriaga, the screenwriter of Amores perros, 21 Grams, and Babel. The film stars Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, ...more
27
Never Let Me Go is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield
Never Let Me Go is a 2010 British dystopian science fiction drama film based on Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Mark Romanek from a screenplay by Alex ...more
28
The Name of the Rose is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Sean Connery, Christian Slater, Ron Perlman
The Name of the Rose is a 1986 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and Christian ...more
29
All That Heaven Allows ... is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman, Agnes Moorehead
All That Heaven Allows is a 1955 romance feature film starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson in a tale about a well-to-do widow and a younger landscape designer falling in love. The screenplay was ...more
30
The Deep Blue Sea is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale
The Deep Blue Sea is a 2011 British romantic drama film directed by Terence Davies and starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, and Simon Russell Beale. It is an adaptation of the 1952 Terence ...more
31
Harold and Maude is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Ruth Gordon, Tom Skerritt, Bud Cort
Harold and Maude is a 1971 American romantic dark comedy directed by Hal Ashby and released by Paramount Pictures. It incorporates elements of dark humor and existentialist drama, with a plot ...more
32
The Pretenders is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Jack Kilmer, Jane Levy, Shameik Moore
The Pretenders is a 2018 American drama film directed by James Franco.
33
Rafiki is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva, Neville Misati
Rafiki is a 2018 Kenyan drama film directed by Wanuri Kahiu. Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) are the daughters of two political rivals who fall in love amidst family and ...more
34
The End of the Affair is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Julianne Moore, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs
The End of the Affair is a 1999 drama film directed by Neil Jordan and starring Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore and Stephen Rea. The film is based on The End of the Affair, a 1951 novel by British ...more
35
Lars and the Real Girl ... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson
Lars and the Real Girl is a 2007 comedy-drama film directed by Craig Gillespie. A sweet but socially awkward young man (Ryan Gosling) develops a romantic yet platonic relationship with a doll.
36
Them That Follow is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Olivia Colman, Kaitlyn Dever, Alice Englert
Them That Follow is a 2019 American thriller film directed by Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage. Inside a snake-handling church deep in Appalachia, a forbidden relationship forces a pastor’s ...more
37
Ode to Joy is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Morena Baccarin, Melissa Rauch, Martin Freeman
Ode to Joy is a 2019 American comedy film directed by Jason Winer. Charlie (Martin Freeman) suffers from cataplexy that causes sudden bouts of paralysis whenever he experiences strong emotions ...more
38
Vita and Virginia is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Rupert Penry-Jones
Vita and Virginia is a 2018 British biographical romance drama film directed by Chanya Button. Poet and novelist Vita (Gemma Arterton) and literary icon Virginia (Elizabeth Debicki) embark on an ...more
39
Boys Don't Cry is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Natalie Zea
Boys Don't Cry is a 1999 American independent romantic drama film directed by Kimberly Peirce and co-written by Andy Bienen. The film is a dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena, ...more
40
Like Water for Chocolate... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Marco Leonardi, Yareli Arizmendi, Mario Vazquez
Like Water for Chocolate is a 1992 film in the style of magical realism based on the popular novel, published in 1989 by first-time Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel. It earned all 11 Ariel awards ...more
41
Red Joan is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Red Joan Stephen Campbell Moore, Sophie Cookson, Tom Hughes
Red Joan is a 2018 British spy drama film directed by Trevor Nunn, based on the novel by Jennie Rooney and inspired by the life of Melita Norwood.
42
Little Children is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Jennifer Connelly, Kate Winslet, Jackie Earle Haley
Little Children is a 2006 American drama film directed by Todd Field. It is based on the novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta, who along with Field wrote the screenplay. It stars Kate Winslet, ...more
43
Her is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Scarlett Johansson, Olivia Wilde, Amy Adams
Her is a 2013 American romantic science fiction comedy-drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. The film's musical score was composed by Arcade Fire, with the cinematography ...more
44
The Night Porter is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Charlotte Rampling, Dirk Bogarde, Isa Miranda
The Night Porter is a controversial 1974 art film by Italian director Liliana Cavani, starring Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling featuring elements of Nazisploitation.
45
I Am Love is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Tilda Swinton, Marisa Berenson, Waris Ahluwalia
I Am Love is a 2009 Italian film directed by Luca Guadagnino set around 2000 in Milan. The film follows an haute bourgeoisie family through changing times and fortunes, and its disruption by the ...more
46
Moonrise Kingdom is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton
Moonrise Kingdom is a 2012 American film directed by Wes Anderson, written by Anderson and Roman Coppola. Described as an "eccentric pubescent love story", it features newcomers Jared ...more
47
Skin is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Jamie Bell, Danielle Macdonald, Daniel Henshall
Skin is an American biographical drama film written and directed by Guy Nattiv. A notorious white supremacist decides to transform his life with the help of a black activist and the woman he ...more
48
Heading South is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Charlotte Rampling, Karen Young, Louise Portal
Heading South is a 2005 French drama film by director Laurent Cantet and based on three short stories by Dany Laferrière, it depicts the experiences of three middle-aged white women in ...more
49
Upside Down is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Kirsten Dunst, Jim Sturgess, Larry Day
Upside Down is a 2012 Canadian-French romantic science fiction film written and directed by Juan Diego Solanas, starring Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst.
50
Murmur of the Heart is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Movies About Forbidden Love
Michael Lonsdale, Ave Ninchi, Daniel Gélin
Murmur of the Heart is a 1971 French film by French director Louis Malle that tells a coming of age story about a 14-year-old boy growing up in bourgeois surroundings in post-World War II Dijon, ...more