We’d be lying to ourselves if we said there wasn’t even a small part of us that sets out on holiday with hopes of finding a summer fling straight out of a romance novel. We want it so much that the search usually starts before we even reach the destination. From the train platform to security checks at the airport, our eyes wander, desperately seeking potential dates to glance seductively at.
The best part about a short-lived romance is that it’s temporary. You know an end is inevitable, so you don’t have to actually invest in the person you take that reckless ride with. You can reinvent yourself, romanticise your fling and indulge in your wildest dreams. As for the heartbreak? You’ll deal with that later.
It seems that filmmakers are also unable to resist the allure of holiday flings, having dedicated films to tradition year after year. So, if your summer of love fantasies are falling short, there’s plenty of on-screen romance to see you through. Here’s the best of the best.
Before Sunrise (1995)
Directed by Richard Linklater, Before Sunrise is an indisputable classic. Perhaps the shortest holiday fling in history, the film’s events take place over a single day, following American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French Celine (Julie Delpy) after they strike up a conversation on a train running through Europe. When it’s time for Jesse to get off, he can’t bring himself to leave Celine behind so he invites her to explore Vienna for a night, before he catches a flight back to America the next morning.
With a minimal plot that mainly consists of monologues and conversations, Hawke and Delpy’s performances are nuanced and authentic, accurately capturing the feeling of not wanting a night to end. At the end of the film, the pair promise to meet again in six months time, but will they? Watch the entire Before trilogy to find out.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Adapted from Andre Aciman’s 2007 novel, Luca Guadagnino’s sensual coming-of-age drama is a beautiful yet sombre portrayal of a fling destined to end before it even starts, tackling sexual awakenings and the intensity of first love. It’s the summer of 1983, and we find ourselves in a sun-drenched Italian town, watching 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and 24-year-old Oliver’s (Armie Hammer) steamy love affair from afar.
Elio is spending the summer at his family home when Oliver, a graduate student and his father’s intern, arrives. The pair try to ignore their magnetic pull – because, you know, inappropriate – but it becomes too hard to resist. Secret embraces and a very steamy scene involving a peach ensue, as the lovers become overwhelmed by the knowledge that their time together will soon be cut short.
My Summer of Love (2004)
It’s a hot summer’s day in the Yorkshire countryside when Tamsin (Emily Blunt), a young girl from an upper-class background, has a chance encounter with working-class teenager Mona (Natalie Press). Tamsin is a wild party girl who has been suspended from her boarding school; all Mona has to hold onto is her born-again Christian brother, who has just been released from prison. Although the pair are worlds apart, they immediately forge a friendship, bonding over their shared dysfunctional family lives.
As they get closer their relationship develops into something more serious, as love borders on obsession. But Tamsin hasn’t been entirely honest about her life. Adapted from Helen Cross’ novel and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, it seems like their fling is bound to implode. Will their love story make it past the summer of 1984?
Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Sun, sex and swimming costumes – sounds perfect, no? Well, only when your boyfriend isn’t part of that equation.
Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También starts as Tenoch and Julio’s girlfriends leave Mexico to travel Europe. The teenagers are restless; their hormones are at an all-time high. In their girlfriend’s absence, they attend a lavish family wedding and meet Spanish Luisa, Tenoch’s cousin’s wife. The duo try their luck and invite her on a road trip, even though the beach they claim they’re going to doesn’t exist. Motivated by her husband’s infidelity, Luisa actually says yes, so the pair scramble to map out an impressive journey. As they carry out an escapade across Mexico, the trio form an increasingly sensual alliance, which transforms Tenoch and Julio as they teeter on the threshold of adulthood.
Class of 1987 high-school graduate James (Jesse Eisenberg) is due to set off on his six-week tour across Europe before heading to study at an Ivy League college. But his dreams come crashing down when his parents experience a career setback and can no longer fund his trip. To make matters worse, his degree is now at risk too. If he doesn’t make enough money to go towards his rent, he may never be able to step foot at his dream institution. He needs a summer job, like, right now.
Luckily, he bags one at his local amusement, the titular Adventureland. It’s there that he meets the enigmatic Em (Kristen Stewart), who softens the blow of missing out on his big trip with a healthy dose of romance. You win some, you lose some.