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Twenty-Something Romantic Angst

December 14, 2009

by John Farr

If you enjoyed Mutual Appreciation, you might also enjoy these great films about twenty-something romance:

Before Sunrise (1995)


Making his way to Vienna to catch a cheap flight home, 20-something American tourist Jesse (Ethan Hawke) chats up Celine (Julie Delpy), a student at the Sorbonne, on a Eurail train and finds they have a lot in common. When they arrive at his station, Jesse proposes that Celine disembark with him in Vienna and keep him company until his plane leaves the next morning. Impetuously, she agrees, and together they embark on a brief but unforgettable adventure.


This intelligent and unconventional tale of talky romance borrows something from the work of French auteur Eric Rohmer, but “Dazed and Confused” director Linklater – a master of meandering conversation – puts his own stamp on the character-driven drama with searching, tone-perfect dialogue. As the two wander the streets discussing love and sex, history and politics, Hawke and Delpy make attractive kindred spirits whose youthful, sometimes argumentative exchanges really seem to echo life. Despite the R rating, “Sunrise” is an ideal film for teens, as it captures a sense of life’s wondrous possibilities.

High Fidelity (2000)


Chicago record-shop owner Rob (John Cusack) finds himself examining the sorry state of his obsessive, audiophile lifestyle when his lawyer girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle), decides she needs more from Rob than the scruffy, thirty-something vinyl fetishist is willing to give. Dejected, Rob starts looking up ex-girlfriends and inquiring about his serial faults, while Laura hooks up with his supersensitive, dunder-head neighbor, Ian (Tim Robbins). Can Rob win her back?


Frears’s surprisingly insightful film, adapted from the Nick Hornby novel, examines the comic romantic entanglements of a lovable music-store geek. His record stacks and Top Five lists may be in perfect order, but his love life is a shambles, and Cusack plays the part with shaggy-dog affection. Aside from solid direction and a great soundtrack, the other selling point here is the supporting cast, in particular Jack Black as a crass, super-snobby record nerd and Robbins as a New Age devotee. High Fidelity hits a steady, heartfelt groove that will keep you in stitches.

Regular Lovers (2005)


In the heady days of May 68 in Paris, 20-year-old poet Francois (Louis Garrel) flees the riot cops on the Night of the Barricades and holes up at the flat of opium-smoking bohemian Antoine (Julien Lucas), who houses young artists, druggies, and hangers-on. There, Francois meets free-spirited sculptor Lilie (Hesme), and falls deeply in love. But as the nature of the revolution changes, so does their idealistic and blissful romance.


This hypnotic, visually ravishing homage to the spirit of ’68 is an autobiographical tour de force by critically acclaimed French filmmaker Philippe Garrel, who cast his own son as Francois, modeled after his youthful self. Instead of memorializing or sentimentalizing the time, Garrel re-creates the mood of rebellion and youthful vigor in the first half, then allows the story-like the radical political movement itself-to drift into dissolution and disappointment. Garrel’s son Louis is superb as the cerebral, easygoing Francois, and Hesme refreshingly pure as the object of his love and esteem. Beautifully lensed in rich black and white, “Lovers” is a uniquely personal film, a love poem to a utopian moment destined to pass.

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  • View Comments
  • Nikki

    “Like Water for Chocolate” 1992 Marco Leonardi and Lumi Cavazos; “Sayonara” 1957 Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki; and “David and Lisa” 1962 Keir Dullea and Janet Margolin (I know they’re teenagers, but I couldn’t resist listing it).

  • rayban

    John, I am green with envy that you’ve actually seen Philippe Garrel’s “Natural Lovers”. A friend of mine was very taken with this film, too, and, at the time, recommended it highly. Nikki’s list is a great one, too, and she reminds us all of “David and Lisa”. (In the original material by Theodore Issac Stern, David was only 15 and Lisa was only 13.) I’d like to recommend a recent French musical about 20-something romantic angst, Christophe Honore’s “Love Songs” with a very engaging score by Alex Beaupain. It stars Louis Garrel, too, Ludivine Sagnier and Clothide Hesme, who are the participants of a most unusual threesome until tragedy strkes unexpectedly and ends the free-wheeling relationship. Thereafter, Garrel takes off on an emotional roller-coaster and ends up, much to his amazement, in the arms of a really beautiful boy, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet.

  • Kerry Wilson

    This is fabulous! Just finished watching American in Paris and heard the promotion for your “best by farr” feature. Bravo! xo Kerry