This weekend, I will finally have the chance to see Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, the believed-to-be final entry to what may just end up being my absolute favorite film trilogy. In 1995, Linklater brought the world Before Sunrise, a film focused on a chance meeting between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) on a train to Europe that leads to one romantic evening spent together in Vienna. Based on a personal one-night encounter Linklater had with a woman whom he never saw again, the film was an achingly real portrait of young love between two individuals who don’t quite know what their next steps are in life. Nine years later, the sequel Before Sunset hit theaters with Jesse and Celine now older, but not quite perhaps as romantically wiser as either had expected. And now, once again nine years later, Before Midnight brings us back into their world.
Counting the Before films among the greatest on-screen portrayals of romance that I have seen, I felt it was fitting that I list some of my other favorite film romances. Now, you won’t see any typical romantic comedies on this list because for me, the more real a given relationship is the more invested I am in seeing the story of that film unfold. Unfortunately, nobody can really accuse the modern romantic comedy of capturing anything close to the realm of realism. Instead, I’ve decided to give you a list of films that range from the depressing to the absurd, but that all contain some aspect of romantic truth. Given that the film genre of depressing romantic relationship dramas is one of my absolute favorites, it should come as no shock to you that these films rank fairly high on my absolute favorite films list. And now, onto The List.