Films to take you to faraway places

A man and a woman sunbathing on a beach.

Travel vicariously through Cary Grant, Liv Tyler and Brigitte Bardot in these iconic summer movies

By Danielle Radojcin   Above image: The Talented Mr Ripley (Shutterstock)   Wednesday 27 May, 2020   Short read

While travelling for leisure may be temporarily off the cards, there’s still the chance to satisfy your wanderlust with these richly evocative films. Not only do they transport you to some of the most beautiful destinations, but they also make you feel, see and even smell the surroundings in a heightened way – minus the jet lag. 

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, Anthony Minghella)
Catnip for those in search of preppy, summer style inspiration, the Italian Riviera provides an equally good-looking foil to Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Jude Law. They sip espresso on cafe pavements, stretch out on the beach and – in Damon’s character’s case – commit murder in this brilliant interpretation of Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thriller from 1955. 
Two men and a woman chatting by the sea.

The Talented Mr Ripley and Stealing Beauty (Ronald Grant Archive)

A woman holding a bunch of wild flowers.
Stealing Beauty (1996, Bernardo Bertolucci)
Set in the surroundings of a beautiful, old villa in the Tuscan countryside, you can practically hear the cicadas and smell the lavender. Follow Lucy (Liv Tyler), a young American woman, as she wanders dreamily around the countryside, lounges by the pool (alongside Rachel Weisz’s scene-stealing turn as a smart-talking vamp), and loses her virginity alfresco. 
A woman and man walking down a wide outdoor staircase.
Contempt (Ronald Grant Archive)
Contempt (1963, Jean-Luc Godard)
Feel the saturated heat of Capri on your skin and feast your eyes on the famous exterior of Casa Malaparte. It’s a classic example of modern Italian architecture and the luscious setting for Godard’s take on Brigitte Bardot; blonde hair never more tousled, lips never poutier, and limbs never more languid and tanned.
A vintage photograph of a man and a woman overlooking the french riviera.

To Catch a Thief and Buena Vista Social Club (Shutterstock)

Two men on a motorbike and sidecar driving down a street.
Buena Vista Social Club (1999, Wim Wenders)
At the strumming of the first few bars of its unmistakable theme tune, this documentary immediately transports you to the streets of Havana in all its faded beauty. Its pastel-coloured buildings and soft tobacco plumes form the backdrop for a triumphant return of a group of elderly musicians as they regroup for a live concert.
To Catch A Thief (1955, Alfred Hitchcock)
Sit back and enjoy the pure class that is Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, as they tussle in this romantic thriller set on the French Riviera. A winding clifftop drive – where you can feel the sea breeze as it tousles Kelly’s hair – followed by a clifftop picnic, replete with Hitchcockian sexual tension and humour, are matched only by the stars’ faultless style. 
A man and a woman dancing at night by a canal and bridge.

Everyone Says I Love You (Ronald Grant Archive) and Y Tu Mamá También (Shutterstock) 

A woman and two men sitting on a beach and looking at the sea.
Everyone Says I Love You (1996, Woody Allen)
Who can resist Goldie Hawn singing, I’m Through With Love – especially when she’s standing on the edge of a canal in Venice. Or indeed Julia Roberts, as she jogs down its iconic, narrow, paved streets and across its footbridges. This star-studded musical comedy is as close as you’ll get to a gondola, without actually visiting the fabled city. And its feel-good capabilities are guaranteed.

Y Tu Mamá También (2001, Alfonso Cuarón)
This offbeat and compelling road movie tells the tale of a young trio (Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna and Maribel Verdú) as they journey around Mexico, making the most of what life has to offer, from stunning scenery to illicit substances and love-making.
Three men pulling their suitcases through a field.
The Darjeeling Limited (Ronald Grant Archive)
The Darjeeling Limited (2007, Wes Anderson)
The smell of jasmine and tang of spices tickle the senses in this fast-paced caper across Rajasthan. It comes with all the pace, style and eccentric humour that you’d expect from an Anderson movie, with the added bonus of Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson as your guides. 
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