Sounds like a crazy question coming from an author claiming to have written five of them. But that doesn’t make the query any less valid. For most people, when you say romance, images of heart-shaped candy boxes, long stemmed red roses, and probably bearskin rugs and roaring fires pop into mind.

But is that it? Not that any of those things on their own might not be a good start, but there has to be more to it, right? So then, what makes something romantic? Is it a gesture? A place? A word?

Yes, no, and everything in-between.

Please keep in mind, these are my own rather crazy thoughts. They might not be right or wrong, but I will own them either way. To me, a romance is something that makes people believe they are part of something greater, something beyond the everyday and that transcends into eternity. It gives hope and allows us to be our best selves. We can believe in the power of love and the promise of happily ever after.

To illustrate this point, I’m going to site what I consider to be one of the greatest, and most underrated, romantic movies: The Adjustment Bureau.

Theatrical release poster (Wikipedia)

For those unfamiliar with the story, it’s loosely based on a short by Phillip K. Dick entitled “Adjustment Team.” It stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as the fate-crossed couple. I say fate-crossed since the movie’s premise is that our lives are already charted out for us and we are simply following a well-thoughtout plan. According to the movie’s main concept, everyone we meet and every thing we do has been prearranged.

Almost all of it. If something amiss happens, well, then in comes the Adjustment Bureau and their army of fedora wearing agents of order to make things right. Chance is rare and free will is an illusion.

Sounds like a standard science fiction story so far. Nothing screams romance about any of it.

So why do I believe it is such a heart-wrenching romance?

Because nothing can keep these two apart.


Not the machinations of the order-loving agents nor the threat of a complete lobotomy, simply called a “reset.” Matt Damon’s character, David Norris, a career driven young politician and fully aware of all the possible ramifications, dares to love Emily Blunt’s character, Elise Sellas, a quirky, spontaneous and immensely talented contemporary modern dancer. Obstacle after obstacle is thrown in front of them; heart break, injury, desertion, the reemergence of a former lover. Still they are willing to risk it and believe in each other, and in the power of love.

At one point, David is told that if he stays with Elise, she will not achieve her dreams of becoming a world renowned dancer and choreographer.

Think about that for just a moment. What would you do if you learned that the person you love the most will not become who they are destined to be if you remain with them? What would you do? What would any of us do?

Chance, sacrifice, redemption. Defiance, acceptance, connection.

Yup. It’s a romance.