Before Sunrise is the first installment in “The Before” film trilogy, starring our two main leads Jesse and Celine. Their love begins on a train to Vienna, where the two strangers miraculously spark up a conversation and decide to spend one day exploring the city together. Although the premise may sound like a pure fantasy, the way the two characters interact with one another feels so genuine and real. Not once did this film ever feel like either of the actors were reading off a script, but actually conversing with each other. Which is where the dream-like atmosphere plays off since the premise itself is so unrealistic. Throughout the trilogy, you watch these two characters age over twenty years and watch their love grow over time. So, if you really like the first film, why not give the other two a try. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Genre: Romance, Drama *rated R
Call Me By Your Name is probably one of the most dream-like films there is on the list, due to the summery atmosphere of spending one’s vacation in Italy and the unforgettable soundtrack this film has to offer. Starring our two main characters Elio, a seventeenth year old boy and Oliver, a doctoral student who interns for Elio’s family. From here, the two grow a bond so strong and heartbreaking, that every moment feels so raw and authentic. Especially since both of the male leads consider themselves straight in real life, so this honest performance they each give is even more impressive. When Marnie Was There (2014)
Genre: Family, Drama
One of the only animated films on this list comes from the iconic Studio Ghibli in which our main protagonist Anna has been sent away to live in the countryside due to her medical condition. Here, she begins to long for a connection and sense of purpose with her life, that she never seemed to have found back in her home. When suddenly, Anna meets this beautiful young girl named Marnie who lives in an abandoned mansion of the town. Upon exploring this building, she finds that it is filled with parties, vibrancy, and life, and her relationship with Marnie further blossoms regardless if what she sees is real or not.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi *rated R
Overlooking the pretentious title, this film speaks on some unconvention but important themes about relationships that everyone should hear after a break-up. In this story, the main character Joel discovers that his ex-girlfriend Clementine is taking a procedure to erase and forget their entire relationship. So, as irritated as he is to hear the news, he decides it would be best to also erase his memories of her. However, the truth is, even if a relationship ended in heartbreak, it is okay to still cherish those happy memories, because nothing in life is ever pointless. That throughout watching this surreal and fantastical film, their romantic lives are told in such a raw and creative way, it helps open our eyes to the relationships in our own lives.
Genre: Romance, Comedy *rated R
This indie French film is about a young woman by the name Amelie, who takes her time everyday to help those around her achieve their goals and dreams, even at the cost of her daily work. When one day she meets a handsome stranger and wonders if she has the courage to achieve her own dreams. Shot in over 80 Parisian locations, this authentic take on filmmaking has such a whimsical, comedic, and magical appeal that I’ve never seen in any other film. The director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s editing style was so creative and imaginative, it makes this reason alone worth watching this film.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
Genre: Sci-fi, Romance *rated R
Originally based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel with the same title, takes place in this dystopian-like setting where three friends, Kathy, Tommy and Ruth finally learn about their true identity and purpose in life. Together, as they grow into adults, they explore new human experiences of love, jealousy, pain, and betrayal. Watching their friendship shift and change as they do themselves.
La La Land (2016)
Genre: Musical, Romance
Now, this film might be the most well-known due to its popularity in winning so many recognized awards, so you may have already watched it. But if you haven’t had the chance to,
La La Land is about Sebastian, a jazz musician, and Mia, an aspiring actress, who happened to meet in the most unconventional but perfect manner where they discuss if a romantic relationship between them is possible. Fighting between sacrificing their love for each other or their dreams of career success. Honorable Mentions:
I can’t say I have watched these films, but many people who I know who have watched this film have also said they have a “dream-like” atmosphere. So, I will pull their descriptions from Wikipedia:
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Genre: Romance, Drama *rated R
France, 1770. Marianne, a painter, is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Héloïse is a reluctant bride to be and Marianne must paint her without her knowing. She observes her by day, to paint her secretly.
Chungking Express (1994)
Genre: Romance, Drama
Every day, Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro) buys a can of pineapple with an expiration date of May 1, symbolizing the day he’ll get over his lost love. He’s also got his eye on a mysterious woman in a blond wig (Brigitte Lin), oblivious of the fact she’s a drug dealer. Cop 663 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) is distraught with heartbreak over a breakup. But when his ex drops a spare set of his keys at a local cafe, a waitress (Faye Wong) lets herself into his apartment and spruces up his life.
Fallen Angels (1995)
Genre: Drama, Crime
An assassin, his boss, an entrepreneur and two women cross paths in Hong Kong as their professional and love lives collide and influence each other, mostly without their knowledge.
Thank you so much for reading! Comment down below any other dream-like films I may have missed