Romantic tension is a beautiful, beautiful thing. That moment where the attraction is crackling between you, where you just know that something is about to happen as your gazes go from eyes to lips and back to eyes again–that moment stops time and nearly stops your heart! Sometimes such an interlude ends in a satisfying smooch, and sometimes the moment is lost and the tension remains. The almost-kiss is a movie staple, and some near-miss kisses are as affecting as the completed kind. Here’s ten of our favorites. Do you have any favorite near-miss movie kisses to add to the list?
Pride and Prejudice (2005): Angry kisses can be hot. Angry almost kisses can have that effect, too. Elizabeth is mad having just heard of Darcy’s meddling, Darcy is stupid in presenting his affections for her. He’s insecure and she’s incensed, and yet as he approaches her she seems to become aware of his desire. It’s heady stuff. There’s a non-angry almost kiss at the end that is sweet and tender, and perfectly timed with the sunrise, too.
Strictly Ballroom: Scott and Fran. Those two. It’s clear to the audience what’s going on between them long before it dawns on them. They dance the rumba backstage early in the film–beautifully choreographed and filmed–but it’s interrupted by nosy intruders as many near misses are. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this movie, check it out NOW! It’s funny and sweet and romantic and timeless.
Gone with the Wind: Oh dear. This list is going to have a number of films to which I have serious, serious objections, including this one. But, since it is both epic and iconic, and I do sincerely love the snappy dialogue in this particular scene, it makes the list. Rhett brings the young widow a particularly fetching green bonnet, and she flirts her way into an almost kiss–but Rhett changes his mind before their lips meet. Some of my favorite lines in any movie, ever.
Cinderella: As a little girl, I danced around the front room with my sister and cousin singing “Salagadoola mechicka boola, Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!” on more than one occasion. I think Disney’s Cinderella may be the quintessential princess film, and it stands the test of time. It’s no surprise then, that sitting under the stars, looking out over the moonlit lake, Cinderella swoons just a little when Prince Charming almost steals a kiss.
The Little Mermaid: Oh, poor Prince Erik. It took a lot to work up the courage to plant one on the pretty, quiet girl who literally just smiles and stares up at you with big, childlike eyes. And just when the moment is right–those stupid, evil eels appear. It’s cute. It’s also disturbing if you start thinking too deeply about it from the perspective of a grown woman. But whatevs. It’s romantic.
The Wedding Planner: I hate love triangles. Honestly, I do, so this movie wasn’t my favorite. Serious objections and whatnot. I’m also not a big fan of Matthew McConaughey or Jennifer Lopez. But I am a big fan of summer nights that feel like they are full of possibility, which is why this scene appeals to me. The m&m thing is kind of lame, but dancing under the stars to a classic movie with an intriguing stranger–I get it. And you might like the whole movie, so why not try?
Never Been Kissed: This is another of those romantic comedies that I totally shouldn’t like, but I do. Drew Barrymore posing as a high school student should not attract the attention of her teacher, who not only is involved with someone else (that triangle again), but also believes she is his underage student! So. Much. Wrong. And yet, I still like it. And Josie Grossy and Mr. Colson have a number of almosts before she finally gets to really fall in love.
Mansfield Park (1999): This one is a potent mix of desire, shame and humiliation. Fanny Price is the poor relation who has grown up with her wealthy, and sometimes snobby cousins. She’s forged a close friendship with the second son, but he’s constrained by his family’s expectations that he marry a girl with a fortune. Their attraction comes to the surface on a fateful night at the Park, when a very ill family member and the machinations of an unrepentant rake conspire to bring Fanny into Edmund’s arms, shaken and exhausted. He wants to, but he doesn’t.
Jane Eyre (2011): Jane and Rochester are messed up. Let’s just get that little detail out of the way right from the start. He is a dissolute man of the world with a hefty dose of leftover crazy hiding in the attic. And she is a poor, traumatized orphan who has known little of love or affection during her life. It is no surprise that she is both frightened and intrigued when, in the adrenaline-filled moments after saving him from a fire in his bed (nothing Freudian there), he holds her for a moment, speaking in low tones. There, in a dark, cold room, wearing nightclothes and standing far closer than is proper, his desire is palpable.He does the right thing and lets her go back to her room, alone and unspoiled. And we all have to fan our faces and breathe deep to get our racing hearts back to a normal rate.
Cairo Time: Patricia Clarkson is a lovely and understated actress who plays an accomplished but lonely American woman whose diplomat husband has left her to navigate their Egyptian holiday alone. Well, not exactly alone. He’s asked his friend Tareq, played by the very subtle but incredibly sexy Alexander Siddig, to accompany Juliette around Cairo until he can make it back to the city. Honestly, not a lot happens, but also everything happens as the chemistry between Tareq and Juliette nearly melts the celluloid. This whole movie is, essentially, one long, building, beautiful, near miss kiss. And you should go watch it immediately.