Alice & Jack and 4 more soulmate stories

By Gen Terblanche27 June 2024

Alice & Jack and 4 more soulmate stories

We believe in true love, but when it comes to movies and series, we’re all a little, um, ethically non-monogamous. We love one story, cry over it, feel butterflies, dream about it and fantasise about being part of it. Then we run off to see another. And if we’re lucky, we get to love it just as much, but in a completely different way. We do this again, and again, and again, because with this kind of love, there’s always room for one more. Okay, five more. Here are five of our favourites. For each of them, we’ve also chosen the moment when we knew this story was “The One” for us. 

1. Alice & Jack

Alice & Jack S1 on Showmax

Get ready for a love story that’ll rip you to shreds if you’ve ever loved someone and had to let them go. A casual date arranged on an app leads to 15 years of entanglement in the romantic comedy series Alice & Jack. While there’s an obvious attraction between Alice (Andrea Riseborough, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, ZeroZeroZero), a sharp tongued, dynamic go-getter who works in finance, and Jack (Domhnall Gleeson, White House Plumbers Season 1) an awkwardly adorable medical research scientist, there’s also an obvious clash between their lives and personalities. So why can’t they move on? Neither has the answer. 

“He is her true north,” says series writer Victor Levin, who compares Jack’s love for Alice to an alien parasite living in him! “This is the person who inhabits his soul. She moved into his soul. She redecorated … He wasn’t asked. She just moved in and she’s not moving out. So, she is the architect of his emotional life. She is the occupant of his spirit, and she always will be. So, what happens when true north meets absolute unmovable rock? That’s the story.”

Domnhall adds, “They find in each other something that they don’t have on their own. I think they’re soulmates, I think it’s bigger than just the two of them. Their story centres on connection and love in the most beautiful way and reminds us that we are always allowed to smile – even if it’s through the tears.” Even when Jack marries and has a child with someone who seems a lot more suitable, like the charming and funny Lynn (Aisling Bea, Greatest Days), a call from Alice will still bring him running.

The moment we knew: Want to see someone suffer for love? Prepare for exquisite torture.  In Season 1, episode 3, Jack gives an impromptu speech at Alice’s wedding to another man. Despite his heart shattering, it’s pure poetry about who she is to him, as he tells her husband, “I think you should be prepared for the strange fact that whenever Alice is around, you’re never aware of the passage of time. Be ready for nothing to make sense, and yet for everything to make sense…it is wildly better than normal. It’s wonderful…Remember to be grateful because you have been kissed by the stars. And stay fit and healthy, because you are going to want to live forever.” 

Binge Alice & Jack Season 1 on Showmax now.

2. Past Lives

Past Lives on Showmax

In this film, childhood friends and crushes Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) are torn apart at the age of 12 when Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea to America. Ten years later the two reunite online and start chatting about everything as they reconnect over video calls while she’s a budding playwright and he’s studying engineering following military service. Another 12 years after that, they finally reunite face-to-face for just one week in New York City. It feels like the setup for a typical romantic comedy in which marriage is a foregone conclusion, despite the “minor” problem presented by Nora’s husband, Arthur (John Magaro). 

But Past Lives is so grounded in the textures of everyday life, rounded characters who’re mature adults – and in heartbreaking nostalgia for the world of childhood, particularly in the immigrant experience – that it feels real. The story is even more fascinating as we see Hae Sung as a tragic romantic hero through the eyes of writers Nora and Arthur (who’s treated as a whole person instead of a plot obstacle). And we see Nora as someone who has reinvented herself to succeed in a new world to the point that her connection with Hae Sung seems to be with another self, but persists as the haunting idea of lost love.

The moment we knew: After meeting Hae Sung again, Nora confides in Arthur, “He was just this kid in my head for such a long time, and then he was just this image on my laptop, and now he’s a physical person. It’s really intense, but I don’t think that that’s attraction. I think I just missed him a lot. I think I missed Seoul.”

3. Fellow Travelers Season 1

Fellow Travelers on Showmax
(L-R): Matt Bomer as Hawkins “Hawk” Fuller and Jonathan Bailey as Tim in FELLOW TRAVELERS, “Hit Me.” Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/SHOWTIME.

This period drama series based on the novel by Thomas Mallon spotlights the secret love between charismatic war hero-turned-bureaucrat Hawkins Fuller (Matt Bomer), and the idealistic and endearingly enthusiastic Tim Laughlin (Jonathan Bailey, Bridgerton’s Anthony). The two first meet in McCarthy-era “Lavender Scare” in Washington DC, when government employees could be fired for being in same-sex relationships, and seen as targets for blackmail by communist forces. But their connection persists over the course of four decades, through the Vietnam War protest era of the 1960s, the drugs and disco indulgence of the 70s, and the Aids crisis of the 1980s. 

The production and performances have an exquisite eye for detail throughout that will makes it worth taking a blind date with this one. Fellow Travellers takes an epic dive into shifting perceptions of gay people and how cruelly bigotry impacted people’s lives (aside from just the spotlighted couple), forcing them to hide fundamental parts of themselves. As well as exploring the price of masking, it’s also a story about a deep connection that persists against all odds, with all the tension of a story about forbidden love that shifts from helpless attraction, to euphoria, to shattering betrayal, to lifelong unfulfilled longing for an impossible seemingly happy ending.  

The moment we knew: Tim tells Hawk that in the larger scheme of his life it doesn’t matter whether Hawk loves him or not. “I have loved you my whole life. I never loved anyone but you. You are my great, consuming love. And most people don’t get one of those. I did. I have no regrets.”

4. You & Me Season 1

Harry Lawtey as Ben and Jessica Barden as Emma in You and Me S1

This short, sweet three-episode romantic comedy-drama series is filled with surprises as it tackles the theme of finding love again after heartbreaking loss. The series centres on two grand romances. One is between Emma (Jessica Barden) – an actress who’s struggling to come to terms with the death of her sister Joey (Lily Newmark) – and Ben (Harry Lawtey), the journalist who’s come to interview her about her latest play. The other is about Ben and Jess (Sophia Brown), a woman he meets at a bus stop and falls in love with in true romantic comedy style. 

“I wrote the show at a time in my life when things were going really well for me. I catastrophised that and thought: what’s the worst thing that could happen? I thought it would be this, because then you’ve got a story about whether anyone can ever come back from that and find love again. This is a story about the love between a guy and a girl, a parent and a child, a child and a parent, a girl and her sister… It’s about what that love costs you, even if it’s the jeopardy that you might lose it. I met my wife when I was 17 and I’m aware that at any time between that point and this, it could have gone really wrong and I would have been lost,” reveals series writer-creator Jamie Davis. 

While the series gives us plenty to cry over, it’s also filled with fairytale romantic moments that celebrate the wonder of meeting someone and doing ludicrous things to keep talking with them for hours because the connection is so compelling. 

The moment we knew: Ben tells his mom about the process of grieving his lost love, comparing it to cleaning up after his children’s glitter party: “Even when I thought that I’d got it all, a couple of days later I’d be tidying up and I’d move something and, ooop, there’s a piece of glitter … And then a couple of months later, at Christmas maybe, or on Jess’s birthday, I’d be shaking the rug out and loads of pieces of glitter would just fly up, even though I was sure that I got it all by then … Just when you think you’re doing well. Just when you think you’re healing, there’s a piece of glitter, and your heart breaks all over again.”

5. The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveller's Wife on Showmax

While time destroys some loves, it makes others stronger – even when time itself is topsy turvey. Based on Audrey Niffenegger’s novel of the same name, this romantic fantasy drama explores involuntary time travelling librarian Henry’s (Eric Bana, with Alex Ferris as the young Henry) star-crossed love with Clare (Rachel McAdams, with Brooklyn Proulx as the young Clare), who he first meets when she is a young child and he is 36 and has no clothes on. Remarkably, it dodges the ick factor as Clare becomes determined that she and Henry meet again when she is older and he is younger. This time he doesn’t recognise her, but she remembers him, and between her and some nudging from his older self, Henry falls for Claire all over again (or maybe for the first time). Despite him ghosting her on and off for years – including on their wedding day or when it’s time to wash the dishes – love blossoms. So if you’re looking for a show to restore your belief in enduring love, this is it. 

The moment we knew: They’re a done deal thanks to knowing the future, but Henry proposes to Clare saying, “I never wanted to have anything in my life that I couldn’t stand losing. But it’s too late for that. It’s not because you’re beautiful and smart and perfect. I don’t feel alone anymore. Will you marry me?”

Now get the tissues and get ready to feel all the emotions on Showmax.