My love for Before films is not hidden from anyone. In my opinion, they are the greatest movie trilogy that cinema has ever seen (yes, I am aware of The Godfather trilogy). What makes Before films so great is that each of the three films apart from being romantic, funny, enlightening and heart wrenching, are about us and who we are: Love seeking and insecure, figuring out all our lives whether what we did, the choices we made, the paths we relinquished, were they right or not.
The massive success of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset — especially among true cinephiles — gave rise to a kind of new movie genre: walk-and-talk. And in the last few years, there have been several films made where two characters just walk around a city over the course of a day or night and have revealing conversations. Not all of them are good, but some of them are actually more than watchable. So, how do these films compare with the Before films? Here are the top walk and talk movies ever. You can watch some of these best walk and talk movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
10. Before We Go
A woman misses the 1:30 train from New York to Boston and a street musician spends the night trying to help her make it back home before her husband does. Throughout the night they learn a lot about one another and eventually find a romance. ‘Before We Go’ has its flaws — primarily that Chris Evans, the director-cum-actor, tries to stuff a lot for a film that’s just one night long — but it has its charming moments too. Overall, you will enjoy the film if you like the Before trilogy.
9. Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong
Outside a bar Ruby, an American children’s toy designer temporarily in Hong Kong, meets an American expat Josh, who offers to walk her to her destination. As they walk and talk they find a connection sparking between them. A walk and talk romance set in the beautiful city of Hong Kong, the film asks the question: what happens when you meet the right person at the wrong time? Clearly inspired from ‘Before Sunrise’, ‘Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong’ may not be as good, but is enjoyable one-time watch.
8. In Search of the Midnight Kiss
On New Year’s Eve, author Texan Wilson, still broke and lonely in L.A. after three years since Karen dumped him, follows the advice of his lifelong Texan buddy Jacob to try dating the modern way, by social network site. Wilson gets chosen by would be-actress Vivian, a blatantly abusive feminist who promises him no intimacy at all, just a seasonal midnight kiss. They grow closer as they learn about each-other’s lives, including her violently vindictive ex Jack. Alternating between funny and sweet, ‘In Search of the Midnight Kiss’ will be enjoyed more by the people who have had similar experiences.
7. Southside With You
‘Southside With You’ tells the story of Michelle Robinson’s first date with Barack Obama. It is 1989 and Michelle is preparing to meet Barack Obama, who is doing his internship in the same law firm as Michelle . Michelle goes on to the date thinking (or at least pretending) that it is not a date, while clearly Barack has only one thing in mind: to court Michelle. During the day that they spend with each other, they visit the Art Institute of Chicago, go to a community center, view a screening of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, and finally, have their first kiss outside an ice cream parlor. While the subject of their conversations range from personal to socio-political, it never stops being intellectually engaging. The reason Before series of films work is the reason also why ‘Southside With You’ works: the conversations between the characters are always interesting and revealing.
6. Last Night
The film centers on Joanna and Michael Reed, a successful and happy couple. They are moving along in their lives together until Joanna meets Laura, the stunningly beautiful colleague whom Michael never mentioned. While Michael is away with Laura on a business trip, Joanna runs into an old but never quite forgotten love, Alex. As the night progresses and temptation increases, each must confront who they really are. Not completely a walk and talk film but considering the major portion of the film is spent on two characters talking, I am going to give this film a pass for this list. ‘Last Night’ is beautiful in the way it explores the dynamics of relationships: old and new. It asks you tough moral questions that have no clear or easy answers. Is cheating only physical? Or is it emotional as well?
5. Midnight in Paris (2011)
One of the best films of Woody Allen, ‘Midnight in Paris’ is about a young man’s great love for a city, Paris, and the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better. Never before history, fantasy, time-travel, and romance have come together in the way they do in this film. But the best aspect of the film are its conversations: effortless and charming.
4. Before Midnight
‘Before Midnight’ is a mature take on the subtle but stark truth that falling in love is not the end of the story. In fact, it’s just the beginning, since maintaining it is not only a bigger challenge but ironically also its gravest peril. ‘Before Midnight’ like its predecessors is talky, witty and funny — in fact funniest amongst all — but it’s more matter of fact or pragmatic in its approach, shedding the mushy romanticism for bare truths about love and life. I know, it’s sounding a little far-fetched when I call a movie funny and pragmatic in the same breath. But that’s the brilliance of ‘Before Midnight’!
3. Before Sunrise (1995)
The idea of romance usually presented in movies is not just unreal but also very cliched. What Richard Linklater did with Before Sunrise is path-breaking: he presented romance in its most realistically believable beauty. Not only that Linklater assumes intelligence on both the part of his characters and his audience (important!), he also is content in his belief that idle conversation between a man and a woman is more of a turn-on than sex. ‘Before Sunrise’ flirtatiously and funnily courts with the idea of romance, but its actual genius lies in the true deeper meanings of the conversations that the two lead characters have.
2. Certified Copy
James Miller has just written a book on the value of a copy versus the original work of art. At a book reading, a woman gives him her address, and the next day they meet and take a country-side drive to a local Italian village. Here, they discuss various works of art found in the town, and also the nature of their relationship — which gets both more revealed and concealed as the day progresses. ‘Certified Copy’ is easily one of the most original and interesting films I have ever seen. The idea that it is based upon is endlessly fascinating. In life, we are slaves to our desires and circumstances, in effect, mostly trying to be someone else. We create a perception of reality around us that may or may not exist. But does that mean we cease to be original? Or are we just certified copy of the person we want to be. This whole idea of us not being our true selves is beautifully captured through conversations in the film.
1. Before Sunset (2004)
If you are trying to find out one film that is a masterpiece just because of its conversations look no further than ‘Before Sunset’. Its conversations are not only engaging and moving but also deep and enlightening. ‘Before Sunset’ is such a masterful work that it, ultimately, becomes a mirror, by looking into which, you can judge your own relationships: Where you went wrong? Who was actually “the one” for you? What opportunities you missed? What could have been? It’s one of the rarest of rare films where your own experience in life will enrich and nourish your experience with the film. Ultimately, ‘Before Sunset’ may only fully reveal itself to those who have felt the consuming heartache of roads not taken and borne the scars left behind by time.