Leaving on a jet plane.
Midnight in Paris | dir. Woody Allen (2011)
Owen Wilson plays Gil, a wistful and nostalgic writer whose romanticised outlook on life is wasted on his wife, Inez (Rachel McAdams). Traveling to Paris with Inez and her parents, Gil finds comfort in wandering the streets alone at night. The others can’t understand what he could possibly be doing; their vision of the world is tainted by a sense of banality and routine that Gil wishes to escape. After midnight, Paris turns into an enchanting city that captivates Gil. Midnight in Paris is a film for people who want not only to escape to faraway cities, but to faraway times.
Moonrise Kingdom | dir. Wes Anderson (2012)
Set on a New England island in the mid-1960s, Moonrise Kingdom follows twelve-year-olds Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), who run away together. Sam, fleeing from Camp Ivanhoe, leads the two on an adventure to a secluded beach that they will name Moonrise Kingdom. Camp Ivanhoe has taught him survival skills and the craft of being an outdoorsman. Suzy joins him, fleeing her own mundane and misunderstood life in attempt to live like the characters in her books. Moonrise Kingdom might seem like a strange film to add to this list as the two do not travel per se, but they escape their everyday lives and partake in a grand adventure together, which for many is the reason we travel in the first place. In their youthful minds, the island is their world to explore.
Lost in Translation | dir. Sofia Coppola (2003)
Lost in Translation tells the story of two Americans, Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), who meet in Tokyo and bond over the peculiarities of being in a distant land. Bob is a middle-aged actor there to promote whiskey. Charlotte is accompanying her recently wedded husband on a work trip and feels like a burden to him. Alone in a country that speaks a foreign language, they are always on the outskirts of conversation. They meet in the one place that feels familiar to them – the hotel bar – and discover that they both speak English and the universal language of loneliness. The two share a form of sincerity that is only possible between two strangers so far away from their own lives. They find companionship in each other that is more intimate and more honest than romance.
Before Sunrise | dir. Richard Linklater (1995)
In 1994, Richard Linklater gave audiences the gift of Before Sunrise, a beautiful tale of two strangers who meet on a train headed toward Paris. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) acknowledges the chemistry between them and effortlessly convinces Celine (Julie Delpy) to hop off the train in Vienna to spend time with him before his flight back to America the next morning. Vienna is their playground and their intelligent, thought-provoking dialogue carries them through the streets. We listen in on their conversations as they get to know each other while trying to decipher the mystery that is life. Because their time together will expire at sunrise, they are able to share their deepest thoughts, dreams and fears in ways that they can’t with people they know. Before Sunrise – like many of Linklater’s films – is a cinematic gem that you’ll want to tuck away and keep forever. See also: Before Sunset and Before Midnight.
Into the Wild | dir. Sean Penn (2007)
The true story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), a recent college graduate who gives up his possessions, burns his cash and cuts all ties with family in exchange for nature, freedom and adventure. McCandless hits the road with nothing but the essentials and literary companions such as Jack London and Jack Kerouac, with his final goal to reach Alaska and live off the land. He connects with strangers on the way, some for longer than others, and eventually learns that these are more than just fleeting connections. In some ways we’ve all wanted to be Christopher McCandless, but if you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to everything you know, Into the Wild is a good place to start dreaming.