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From Casablanca to... The Exorcist - our readers on their comfort films

We asked, and you answered in your droves.

Image: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

SOMETIMES THERE IS nothing you need more than to curl up on the couch, put your phone away, and turn on a film.

It might be a tearjerker that you need; or maybe you want to escape with an action film, or a thriller. Perhaps you reach for a childhood favourite when you need comfort.

We recently held a competition to win season tickets for the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, which runs from 3 – 14 March online this year, and asked our readers to share with us their favourite comfort films. Our winners have been selected, but we got such a great spread of entries that we wanted to share them so that you could be inspired too.

Hanna:
My comfort films are An English Patient and A Room with a View. Filled with beauty, from landscapes to music to iridescent love. I watch these when the world is too much and I just need a duvet day.

Shauna:

My comfort film is Beetlejuice, it’s a film I can watch over and over again and never get tired of. Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice has probably shaped my humour for what it is today (as messed up as that is). The colours, the acting and the music makes it the best movie for total escapism this pandemic.

Frank:

That special movie for me would be Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life. It brings me straight back to a warm, safe and happy place. It was my father’s favourite Christmas movie and my memory of Christmas time with a cosy fire and my father happy is one I shall forever cherish.

Rowland:

My comfort film is Groundhog Day. I find it is a great reminder that, even though it can seem like every single day is the same, you are still heading somewhere and it can lead to a major revelation one day.

Nigel:

My go-to movie is Good Will Hunting. It’s based in a city I love – Boston, it was out at a time of real happiness in my life, I love Minnie Driver and Matt Damon, and it showed the great Robin Williams at his very best. It’s just a great movie. How do you like those apples?

Orla:

My favourite comfort film is Casablanca. It has the perfect mixture of soft cheese and utter brilliance. The script is sharp, the acting impeccable and the direction flawless, creating various moods that keep it enthralling. While Bogart and Bergman are superb romantic leads they are outdone by the cast of lesser characters, the villains, rascals, cheats and sneaks, (I’m looking at you Peter Lorre) all perfectly cast. While it is a tale of romance and sacrifice it never delves into the gloom that other films of self sacrifice evoke. The camaraderie of Bogart and Rains lifts it in the end. The Nazis are just ideal villains and the rendering of the La Marseillaise in the bar helps understand why ejits voted Brexit. I love it. And As Time Goes By I return to it again and again.

David:

My favourite comfort film would have to be Hocus Pocus for a variety of reasons, primarily my year-round love of all things Halloweeny, but also an intense nostalgia of it airing every October 31st on RTÉ. I can recite nearly the entire script word for word and know tonnes of trivia and behind the scenes facts about the film’s production. It instilled in me a creative streak from a young age and a passion for film that I maintain to this day.

Luke:

My comfort film is Ratatouille. The beautiful animation, delectable food, gauzy French music – all of which surrounds a movie about a rat that yanks a man’s hair to make him a good cook. Just the perfect alchemy of impeccable craftsmanship and madcap insanity, I wouldn’t change a frame.

Rob:

I think The Snapper is the ultimate comfort film. Unbeatable slice of Dublin nostalgia with something for everyone in the family. I think most Irish people know the whole script word-for-word and it always cheers me and my husband up.

David:

Forrest Gump. This was the film I saw the first time I went to the cinema with just my friends – no adult supervision.  We had no money for expensive cinema treats so we had our pockets stuffed with sweets we’d bought in the newsagents on the walk to the cinema and I remember being terrified we’d get caught with our contraband sweets.

I remember not getting a lot of the historical references/context the first time around but what was great about this movie was that each time I watched it in subsequent years it made more and more sense and it was like watching a different movie each time. Still have a soft spot for it.

John:

84 Charing Cross Road. This movie is exquisitely contrived: the locations of the action: an apartment in New York and a bookstore in London are embracing of audiences. There are intimations of romance against a background of distant war and its economic repercussions on the London location. Composure in a time of uncertainty is the hallmark of this film.

Lauren:

My comfort film I always turn to is the 1986 masterpiece, Labyrinth! Not only is it a wonderful fantasy film, but also has David Bowie as the iconic Goblin King (which I have in figurine and on a xmas jumper!), a great use of puppets, and a soundtrack that ages like a fine wine. *chef’s kiss* It is a film my sisters and I quote all the time, with one of our shared fondest memories being when we watched ‘Labyrinth’ every day for a month one summer.  It is probably the film I turn to because I love using films for escape, much like how Sarah uses her play for escapism, and it is easy to get swept up in the beautifully weird and creative world Jim Henson helps bring to life.

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Arantxa:

The Intouchables is a French film based on a true story that is about this beautiful friendship between two men who are polar opposites. One is a wealthy man with a disability that requires help and support to be looked after and the other is a poor man who possibly has a delinquent past with a continuing delinquent group of friends.

What I like about his film is the genuine and organic way the friendship is presented and to an extent I think a lot of us viewers can relate to it. The movie reminds us that everyone in different circumstances deserve a form of love whether through friendship, a platonic connection, romantic connection and so on. The film personifies friendship and the importance of it and the way it can make a difference in a person’s life in the most beautiful and loving way.

Orlaith:

My favourite comfort film is The Princess Bride, because it is as enjoyable to watch as an adult as it was to watch when I was younger. It is a film for all ages, and feels like a timeless classic. I will always have positive memories of watching it at Christmas, and it is the quintessential comfort movie.

Christine:

My go-to movie has always been Gone with the Wind. I am a mum of three, and I grew up watching this movie every Christmas with my own mum sitting by the fire, the two of us. It is one of the classics but for me the main character Scarlett O’Hara has always epitomised the idea of a strong, self-sufficient woman with more than a streak of Irish pride and, dare I say, stubbornness. To this day it has remained a source of comfort to me when things get tough and I consider myself a survivor like the lead female character, Vivien Leigh, who had her own real life troubles. Last year both my mum and I beat cancer together and I narrowly avoided becoming homeless but I survived. We survived. Maybe there’s something to be said for that streak of Irish stubbornness. After all, “Tomorrow is another day”.

Robin

My favourite comfort film is Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I find it incredibly comforting to be tucking in to watch the film knowing I’ve three hours (more for the extended edition) to really relax unwind and get lost in the adventure. It’s great to watch with friends on a lazy hungover Sunday morning or a dark winter’s night. All sense of care of the world go and you’re taken on an amazing journey with great intensity.

Daniel:

Cinema Paradiso is to this day one of my favourite films as it reminds me of a time when I fell in love with film, how they could transport me to many a different world and they still do to this day. A time when I was a projectionist and nothing else mattered other than watching films. Cinema Paradiso also reminds me of the small village my Mother came from in Italy and the stories she told me when I was growing up.

When I watch the film, I am reminded of these memories past and celebrate them. The film itself is about a memory – a time when the local cinema was unique, a place where people met, it was part of the local culture of the town. Which sadly, is now long gone.

James:

The Exorcist, about the only film that reminds me that things could be better.

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