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Romance Rumble IV: Guilty pleasures

Love Letters writer Meredith Goldstein and film critic Ty Burr have chosen their favorite guilty pleasures. Now you can choose yours: Go to www.boston.com/romancerumble and vote. The winning film will be shown in Theatre 1 at the Revere Hotel on March 5.

Guilty-pleasure romances are an awfully tricky thing to define. In essence, they should stir up primal emotions (the “pleasure”) while making you ashamed to admit you like them (the “guilt”), but shame’s a personal thing, isn’t it? I suppose there are people out there who would consider “Titanic” a guilty pleasure, but I’m sorry, with 11 Oscars and $2 billion in grosses, the world disagrees.

No, a true guilty-pleasure movie should be indefensible on many if not all levels. Your mother shouldn’t know. You should keep it a secret from your friends. And you should still be there in front of the TV at 1 a.m. with a bowl of Chunky Monkey whenever it comes on Starz.

Andrew Cooper/Summit Entertainment

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” is one of Meredith Goldstein’s picks.

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Are the production values dicey? The performances overblown? Does — and this is crucial — the logic of the plot seem deeply, suspiciously screwy? No matter. We go to movies to see things work out the way they don’t in life, and, yeah, sometimes that means overcoming obstacles like a boyfriend with a transplanted monkey heart or living two years out of synch with your one true love. No big deal. What matters is the conviction of the thing: that if actors, filmmakers, and audience all try really hard, the story will somehow make sense and we’ll get the happy endings we deserve. Guilty pleasures just make us work a little harder to believe. Maybe that’s why they’re worth it.

For the fourth annual Romance Rumble, Love Letters columnist Meredith Goldstein and I have each chosen our favorite guilty-pleasure love stories on film. They’ll face off against one another in an online bracket on Boston.com. The winner will be screened March 5 in Theatre 1 at the Revere Hotel.

Head over to www.boston.com/romancerumble to vote. The tournament ends Friday and the winner will be announced Monday. Your picks are anonymous, so no shame necessary. — TY BURR

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