John and Mary (1969)
John and Mary opens with a chance encounter at a pub between a young man (Dustin Hoffman) and woman (Mia Farrow). Their starting point is a discussion about Jean-Luc Godard's Le Weekend, and that very much outlines what kind of characters, not to speak of film we're dealing with here; John and Mary are young intellectuals with an unusually analytical outlook on life (it's almost as if they were written), and the film itself, as directed by Peter Yates, has found more inspiration in the French New Wave than merely a reference in the plot. This is an unassuming film about life and love for 20-somethings in late 1960s New York, and it is told with rapid use of unnotified flashbacks and long, naturalized takes. Remarkably, the film remains relevant in many ways. Seen today, it works not only as a document of bygone traditions and ways, but also serves to link the dating culture of the 21st century to its predecessor generation. Even though the film – through its stagy form as well as the dialogue between our two protagonists – keeps a certain theatrical distance to its audience, the interplay between an effectively confident Hoffman and an appropriately sensitive Farrow (fresh off of filming Midnight Cowboy and Rosemary's Baby, respectively) helps make John and Mary a dynamic romantic drama that is both delightful to watch and worthy of afterthought – even today, more than forty years after its release.