Around the world in 12 films: Best movies to inspire wanderlust
- The List
- 8 May 2020
Travel the world with these selection of films that are available to stream now
On top of everything else, one of the many pitfalls of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the various cancelled holidays and travel plans, which have left a large chunk of us hopelessly yearning for our next weekend away, city break or jolly in the sun. Let's face it; none of us are going to be travelling anytime soon so to keep that wanderlust alive, we've compiled some of our favourite films on streaming platforms that take you all over the world with their incredible settings and glorious cinematography.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
André Aciman's 2007 coming-of-age novel Call Me By Your Name centres around protagonist Elio Perlman's deeply nostalgic memories of the summer of 1983, when his parents hosted an American doctoral student named Oliver at their Italian home. After many fits and starts, the two of them began an impassioned affair that irrevocably shaped the rest of their lives. Though Luca Guadagnino and James Ivory's 2017 adaptation – the final instalment of Guadagnino's 'Desire' trilogy – does away with Elio's narration, his intense longing for Oliver is instead imbued into the heat and dream-like colour of the film's setting. Shot mostly around the city of Crema, Call Me By Your Name's naturalistic pace and impressionistic cinematography is a heady seduction of Lombardian sunshine, fruit trees and evening swims in the sea, mirroring the growing intensity of Elio and Oliver's attraction. The cast is helmed by Timothée Chalamet, in his star-making turn as Elio, and Armie Hammer as classical-statue-come-to-life Oliver, but Michael Stuhlbarg has also deservedly received praise for his portrayal of Elio's loving father, Samuel. A quiet, yet visually and emotionally ravishing film, Call Me By Your Name is an unforgettable depiction of desire, first love and its transformative power over us. (Deborah Chu)
Watch now on Amazon Prime, iTunes and Sky.
The Fall (2006)
When talking about cinema, the word 'visionary' gets bandied around a little too often but there's really no other way to describe Indian music video and film director Tarsem Singh. In 2006 he released his sophomore feature, The Fall. A massive undertaking shot over four years across 20 countries, The Fall is one of the best-looking films ever made, a feat accomplished using a bare minimum of visual effects work (Singh was concerned that the technology of the day would age the film in later years), relying instead on a breathtaking range of natural landscapes and man-made locations scattered across the globe. The story, set in 1915, is slight: a stuntman (Lee Pace) is seriously injured following a potentially life-changing accident, and from his hospital bed he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a six-year-old girl (Catinca Untaru). He regales her with a fantastical adventure about a group of heroes seeking revenge against a corrupt ruler, and the little girl uses her imagination to bring the stories to vivid life, combining elements from within her closed environment to sometimes horrifying effect. This beautifully detailed relationship vitally underpins the storytelling: the tale's fantasy protagonists live or die on the whims of its narrator, and the young girl's desperate attachment to the story challenges the stuntman's fatalistic philosophy. The Fall is a stunning achievement with real heart. And Singh was right – it hasn't aged a bit. (Murray Robertson)
Watch now on Amazon Prime.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Arguably one of Wes Anderson's finest, The Darjeeling Limited is a whimsical comedy about three estranged brothers who meet up in India a year their father's funeral in an attempt to reconnect and bond. Eldest brother Francis (Owen Wilson) arranges the train trip across the stunning landscapes of India in the hopes of rekindling his relationship with his two younger brothers Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman). The film centres on the themes of reconciliation and rebirth, with the backdrop of India serving as the film's greatest pull, as Anderson presents us with a mini-travelogue of the country, transporting us to the lush and spiritually enticing Indian countryside. But the film doesn't make that typical Hollywood mistake of portraying India as an exotic, 'othered' land; instead, the three characters are the outsiders here, culturally ignorant and unable to disengage from their own egos and obliviousness. With tragedy and intensely sad moments making their way into the plot's eccentricities, The Darjeeling Limited succeeds in portraying India as a character in its own right, central to the family's healing, while also visually pleasing, rich with intricacies and culturally vibrant. (Arusa Qureshi)
Watch now on Amazon Prime, iTunes or Sky.
Before Sunrise (1995)
The film that launched a thousand Eurail trips, Richard Linklater's 1995 romantic drama follows two young twenty-somethings Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) who, after a short conversation on a train to Budapest, impulsively decide to spend the night together in Vienna, before Jesse must board a flight back to America and Céline returns to Paris. The two of them discuss their past relationships and contrasting outlooks on life and love as they wander through the streets, and though the spark of Before Sunrise is lit by the rapport between Jesse and Céline, Vienna truly speaks for itself – their burgeoning romance plays out over incredible views out the Wiener Riesenrad, along the banks of the Danube with its vagrant poets, and through the darkening cobblestone streets, seedy bars and coffee houses of the city. As their unforgettable night draws to its end, Jesse and Céline grapple with whether they should try and maintain the remarkable connection they've found in one another, or let this singular evening remain unblemished in their memories by parting for good. That's ultimately a story for its sequels, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, but this first instalment of the trilogy is a glorious tribute to the unabashed romance of youth and to the beauty of Vienna, whether deep at night or set aglow at dawn. (Deborah Chu)
Watch now on Amazon Prime, iTunes and Sky.
A Bigger Splash (2015)
A Bigger Splash, the second instalment in Luca Guadagnino's self-described 'Desire' trilogy (preceding Call Me By Your Name), is set in an isolated villa on the small Italian island of Pantelleria. The picturesque and seemingly idyllic setting, with much of the action taking place under the glow of the Mediterranean sun, transports you to a part of the world that is impossibly stunning, perpetually warm and isolated enough to provide some sense of escapism. Of course, the dichotomy between this and the psychologically intense nature of the drama only serves to heighten the tension, making Guadagnino's drama one that sticks with you for some time. The plot centres around rock legend Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton), who has retreated to the island with her photographer boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) to recuperate and recover her voice. But when her old flame and record producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) shows up unexpectedly with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson) in tow, their plan to rest and relax is scuppered as a mix of nostalgia, desire and jealousy rears its ugly head. A Bigger Splash is a terrific film largely thanks to the strength of its cast, but the cinematography and paradise-like aesthetic draws you in, amplifying the compelling and sensuous storyline. (Arusa Qureshi)
Watch now on Amazon Prime.
In this impressive feature debut from director Mark Raso, immature American twenty-something William (Gethin Anthony) is travelling around Europe when he finds himself in Copenhagen, Denmark, the birthplace of his long-estranged father. He quickly befriends Effy (played by the talented Frederikke Dahl Hansen), a young Danish woman who is working at his hotel, but unbeknownst to William, is only fourteen-years-old. The charming Effy, mature far beyond her years, encourages William to deliver a letter to his grandfather who he has never met and that was written by his estranged father. Soon, William discovers his family's sordid past and is forced to come to terms with it. William, who rarely connects with other people, develops feelings for Effy on their adventure together. She causes the stubborn William to finally see the world in a different light, but he faces a dilemma when he later finds out that she is half his age. Shot entirely in Copenhagen, this gem of a film takes viewers on a scenic journey with the pair through the city's cafes, museums and clubs, with Copenhagen becoming a character in itself and invoking strong feelings of wanderlust. (Megan Forsyth)
Watch now on iTunes.
God's Own Country (2017)
Natural landscapes across Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales have inspired many of the world's greatest literary works and provided backdrops for TV and film. Francis Lee's breakout debut God's Own Country is set in the expansive Yorkshire Dales. The plot follows the growth and sexual awakening of young sheep farmer Johnny (Josh O'Connor). He lives an isolated life with his mother and father, undertaking the monotonous duties required to run a farm. His world is transformed when Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu) comes to work on his father's farm. The pair work side-by-side in the rough and untamed Yorkshire fields and begin to develop levels of intimacy they could never have imagined. Much like the Dales, the film is minimal, with only four characters and very little dialogue, relying on the barren, unforgiving landscape to create atmosphere and reflect the emotional and physical obstacles the two lovers face. Their romance is far from idyllic and – much like the setting – is gruelling and complicated. Long sweeping scenes put the county's signature wonky drystone walls and heathery Moores at the forefront of this masterfully told tale. (Becki Crossley)
Watch now on Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube and iTunes.
Before Sunset (2004)
The second film in Richard Linklater's Before trilogy sees Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) reunite in Paris nine years after their first encounter on a train led to a romantic and unforgettable night in Vienna. Jesse is now a published author who is married with a son, while Céline is an environmental advocate with a photojournalist boyfriend. They first meet again in the famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop where Jesse is giving a talk about his new novel (clearly based on their night together in Vienna) and the pair decide to spend some time together before Jesse's flight back to New York that evening. Over the course of 80-minutes and in real-time, the film takes us all over the city to Parisian cafes, gardens and on a boat ride down the Seine river, all while witnessing Jesse and Céline instantly reconnect and reflect on their lives and what could have been. The film's simple but stunning cinematography features long takes that showcase the true beauty of Paris. Despite all of their time apart, Jesse and Céline's connection proves to be stronger than ever and the pair's conversation becomes increasingly deep and personal, with Hawke and Delpy effortlessly delivering some of the finest dialogue in romantic film history. Before Sunset is a rare sequel that easily rivals its near-perfect predecessor. (Megan Forsyth)
Watch now on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Sky.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Ben Stiller's 2013 directorial effort, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, sees him adapt James Thurber's 1939 short story of the same name, in which the title character (also played by Stiller) disappears into his own daydreams, creating fantasies full of adventure and romance. In the film, Walter Mitty works as a negative asset manager at Life Magazine, with the action taking place during the corporate takeover of the magazine and its final print issue. Walter is an introverted and mostly invisible employee, predominantly daydreaming about situations in which his colleague Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) falls madly in love with him. But when a lost negative threatens the success of the magazine's final issue, Walter, although reluctant at first, steps into the world of his daydreams and goes on a quest to recover acclaimed photographer Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn). He travels to Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan to find O'Connell where he encounters sharks, volcanic eruptions and local warlords; ultimately taking on action beyond his wildest dreams. The sequences where he's longboarding away from the erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano and hiking the Himalayas are just two examples of where the cinematography of this film surpasses the actual plot. But the constantly shifting setting prevents it from ever being dull, instead taking you to some of the most interesting and remote locations on the planet. (Arusa Qureshi)
Watch now on Amazon Prime or iTunes.
Paris, Texas (1984)
Wim Wenders 1984 film Paris, Texas swept up multiple Cannes Film festival awards and British Academy awards upon release and continues to be dissected by critics to this day. The plot follows the mysterious vagabond Travis (Harris Den Stanton) who has been missing for sometime, and now, appearing almost out of nowhere, is embarking on a journey to reunite with his brother, his son and eventually, his French wife Jane (Aurore Clément). Telling the tale of a broken romance, grief and fatherhood, every location in Paris, Texas was meticulously chosen by Wenders and his team. Aerial shots of barren and worn out Texan dessert eminent Travis' broken state of mind and immerse the viewer in the exhausting, misanthropic mood of the early scenes. The scenery shifts from the expanses of Texas to the thriving hills of Los Angeles to the industrial setting of Houston. Without saying too much about the plot, the power of this movie comes largely from the extraordinary use of the American landscape. It's a poignant and moving road-movie that transports the viewer to some of America's most visually stunning locations. (Becki Crossley)
Watch now on Amazon Prime, BFI Player and iTunes.
Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name, Wild stars Reese Witherspoon in an Oscar-nominated performance as Cheryl Strayed, a woman who hiked solo along the Pacific Crest Trail from southern California to Washington state on a 94-day journey of self-discovery. Recently divorced and grieving after her mother's death, Strayed hikes the stunning but treacherous trail while flashbacks show pieces of her childhood growing up in Minnesota with her now-late mother (Laura Dern). More recent flashbacks reveal that her mother's death from cancer sent Strayed into a depression, which in turn led her down a dangerous path of heroin use and anonymous sex, ultimately destroying her marriage with her husband Paul (Thomas Sadoski). After an unplanned pregnancy and abortion, she vows to complete the 1,100-kilometre hike in an attempt to gain control of her life again. The film takes viewers on Strayed's emotionally-charged journey along the American west coast, through the stunning scenery of California and Oregon before ending at the Bridge of the Gods at the Washington state border. Centred around Witherspoon's powerful performance and the trail on which she finds herself, Wild is an inspirational true tale that proves you can turn your life around if you're willing to take chances. (Megan Forsyth)
Watch now on Netflix and iTunes.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Sofia Coppola's 2003 film centres around the unlikely relationship between Bob (Bill Murray), an ageing actor, and the young, aimless Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), who meet in a hotel in Tokyo. Bob, who has come to Japan to film a whisky advert, is grappling with a mid-life crisis, while Charlotte has come to join her celebrity photographer husband on assignment. The unlikely pair spend several sleepless evenings bonding over their disillusionment towards their respective marriages and futures, drawn closer together by their shared personal and cultural alienation. When Bob and Charlotte finally leave their aggressively-neutral hotel and explore the city together, however, the bright lights and cacophony of Tokyo's nightlife create a dreamy, otherworldly atmosphere, encapsulating the disorientation that Bob and Charlotte feel at this moment in their lives, but also the strange sense of romance that has brought them together. Lost In Translation's lyrical and bittersweet portrayal of two lonely souls will resound with anyone who's ever experienced the strange isolation of being alone in a foreign city, and the almost magical connections that can spring up in the unlikeliest of places. (Deborah Chu)
Watch now on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky.
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