Movies everyone should see in their lifetime


Four years ago, in the study hall of my middle school cafeteria, I began to draft a list. I titled it “Movies EVERYONE Should See In Their Lifetime.” I wanted everyone to fall in love with the films I adored, so I began to add all of my favorite movies to this small, half-a-google doc list. I started taking suggestions, and looking at today’s list, I could still tell which movies were suggested by whom. This list became somewhat of my legacy. My friends quiz me on my claims that I know quotes from “every movie on the list” (which is only somewhat true), people I’ve barely even met already know about my list, and my Instagram polls get pretty heated when I claim Ethan Hunt is way better than James Bond. The natural next step was to share it with everyone, right? Every week, I go through a different movie that managed to make a list that now strains to stay on two pages. What I liked, what I didn’t, where you can watch: you have found the movie you’ve been looking for, and it won’t take you a lifetime to see it.

Before Midnight
Year: 2013
Genre: Drama/Romance
Rating: R (language, nudity)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

“If you want love, then this is it. This is real life. It’s not perfect, but it’s real.”
Nine years after their day together in Paris, and eighteen years after their meeting in Vienna, Jesse and Celine are back for this final installment of one of the most beloved romance trilogies of the past thirty years. As the pair enters their forties, everything in their lives has changed, and the fleeting fluidity of their last two meetings has given way to road trips, school drop-offs, and the intimate arguments characteristic only of truly committed relationships. On their last night on vacation in Greece, Jesse and Celine’s unspoken struggles come to a head as they rehash the last eighteen years and finally say the things they never said.

What I liked: I don’t think I have ever seen a movie relationship quite so real as that in the Before Trilogy. Jesse and Celine seem so realistic that they transcend the boundaries of our suspended disbelief, leaving their character status behind and becoming a real couple in our minds. I found myself empathizing with their arguments in a way so legitimate that I could easily forget that it was a movie at all. I also loved the way the creators didn’t bind themselves to the idyllic love story narrative that they had stuck to for the last two films. If Jesse and Celine are to stay together, it’s not going to be romance and happiness all the time. In fact, they engage this third film so seamlessly that the previously mentioned idyllic love story narrative is an issue in and of itself for the couple, as we find them failing these expectations they set for themselves. The truth of this film is just so seductive, it is raw and real, and packs quite a punch for a finale.

What I didn’t like: For most of the film, Jesse and Celine are fighting. I should have expected it, but it still broke my heart a little bit, to go from Jesse sweeping Celine off her feet in Vienna, to her finding him again in Paris, to them having lost such faith in each other in Greece. It hurts, especially if you’re sensitive to emotional conflicts, and it’s never inspiring to watch couples argue. Additionally, while all three films have the mature themes and language characteristic of an R rating, there’s a short scene of nudity that took me by surprise. Make sure that if you’re under 17, you are watching with the permission of a parent or guardian.

Conclusion: The conclusion of a truly great film series creates a level of sadness that there are no more movies left to watch. As the credits rolled on Before Midnight , I felt such emptiness that Jesse and Celine’s story had come to a close. However, it was certainly ready to be finished; they had walked through every season, every story, every life. I feel as if I have read a great philosophical work, something that evokes an understanding of life’s meaning in every viewer. And all of this composed into a romance trilogy? How remarkable. This film is available for free with a Starz, Hulu, or Amazon Prime subscription.

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