Ten great movies set in 24 hours or less

While some films are sweeping epics set over years or even generations there are some awesome films that show you just how much your life can change in just one day. These are ten of my favourite films that tell their whole story in twenty-four hours… or less.

La Haine

La Haine (1995)
Starring: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui
Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz
What happens?: A riot ensues when a young resident of a French suburban ghetto is killed by police and one of his friends swears revenge after finding a gun.
“Hubert: Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good… so far so good… so far so good. How you fall doesn’t matter. It’s how you land!”


Speed (1994)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper
Directed by: Jan de Bont
What happens: A New York cop finds himself on a bus that has to travel above a certain speed or be blown up by a madman.
“Harry Temple: All right, pop quiz. Airport, gunman with one hostage. He’s using her for cover; he’s almost to a plane. You’re a hundred feet away… Jack?
Jack: Shoot the hostage.”

Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs (2006)
Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
What happens?: A bank heist goes very wrong and the team responsible start to think that one of their crew might be a police informant.
“Mr. Blonde: Listen kid, I’m not gonna bullshit you, all right? I don’t give a good fuck what you know, or don’t know, but I’m gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to get information. It’s amusing, to me, to torture a cop. You can say anything you want cause I’ve heard it all before. All you can do is pray for a quick death, which you ain’t gonna get.
[He removes his razor]
Mr. Blonde: You ever listen to K-Billy’s “Super Sounds of the Seventies” weekend? It’s my personal favorite.”

Empire Records

Empire Records (1995)
Starring: Rory Cochrane, Liv Tyler, Renee Zellweger
Directed by: Allan Moyle
What happens?: The staff of an independent record store discover that they’re about to be taken over by a big chain on the same day that one of the employees steals the takings… and all hell breaks loose.
“A.J.: What’s with you? Yesterday you were normal and today you’re like the Chinese guy from the Karate Kid. What’s with you today?
Lucas: What’s with today today?”

Do the right thing

Do the Right Thing (1989)
Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee
Directed by: Spike Lee
What happens?: On the hottest day of the year a misunderstanding leads to a full on race riot in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn.
“Mister Senor Love Daddy: Today’s temperature’s gonna rise up over 100 degrees, so there’s a Jheri curl alert! That’s right, Jheri curl alert. If you have a Jheri curl, stay in the house or you’ll end up with a permanent black helmet on your head fuh-eva!”


Dazed and Confused (1993)
Starring: Jason London, Matthew McConaughey, Rory Cochrane
Directed by: Richard Linklater
What happens?: It’s the last day of school and adventures are afoot for both the freshmen and seniors of a suburban school in Texas.
“Wooderson: Man, it’s the same bullshit they tried to pull in my day. If it ain’t that piece of paper, there’s some other choice they’re gonna try and make for you. You gotta do what Randall Pink Floyd wants to do man. Let me tell you this, the older you do get the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.”


Clerks (1994)
Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti
Directed by: Kevin Smith
What happens?: On the day that convenience store clerk, Dante Hicks, wasn’t even supposed to work every possible thing that could go wrong does.
“Randal Graves: Oh what, what’s with you, man? You haven’t said anything for like 20 minutes. What the hell’s your problem?
Dante Hicks: This life.
Randal Graves: This life?
Dante Hicks: Why do I have this life?
Randal Graves: Have some chips, you’ll feel better.
Dante Hicks: I’m stuck in this pit, working for less than slave wages. Working on my day off, the goddamn steel shutters are closed, I deal with every backward ass fuck on the planet. I smell like shoe polish. My ex-girlfriend is catatonic after fucking a dead guy. And my present girlfriend has sucked 36 dicks.
Randal Graves: 37.”

Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise (1995)
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Directed by: Richard Linklater
What happens?: Jesse and Celine meet on a train and and spend a night together in Vienna but will they ever see each other again?
“Celine: You know, I’ve been wondering lately. Do you know anyone who’s in a happy relationship?
Jesse: Uh, yeah, sure. I know happy couples. But I think they lie to each other.
Celine: Hmf. Yeah. People can lead their life as a lie. My grandmother, she was married to this man, and I always thought she had a very simple, uncomplicated love life. But she just confessed to me that she spent her whole life dreaming about another man she was always in love with. She just accepted her fate. It’s so sad.
Jesse: I guarantee you, it was better that way. If she’d ever got to know him, I’m sure he would have disappointed her eventually.
Celine: How do you know? You don’t know them.
Jesse: Yeah, I know, I know. It’s just, people have these romantic projections they put on everything. That’s not based on any kind of reality.”


’71 (2014)
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris
Directed by: Yann Demange
What happens?: A British solider gets separated from his regiment in Belfast and must find his way back before the IRA finds him.
“Gary Hook: Hey, listen, I don’t want you worried about me, okay? I’ll be fine, promise you.”


The Breakfast Club (1985)
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald
Directed by: John Hughes
What happens? Five high school students from different cliques find themselves in detention together for the day and realise that they have a lot more in common than they thought.
“Brian Johnson: Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did *was* wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.”


  1. Excellent choices, La Haine is such an amazing film that really made an impact on me the first time I saw it.

    1. Abbi

      La Haine was what made me really take notice of Vincent Cassel. He has become one of my favourite actors.

      1. Same here, it was the first movie I saw of his and he definitely made a striking impact.

  2. MIB

    Do you know I have never seen “Breakfast Club” all the way through? Whenever it’s been on TV I always seem to catch it half way through… :-\

    Oh and no love for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”? 😉

    1. What?! Watch it all the way through. Now! 🙂

      1. MIB

        No! I’m busy! Plus it’s not on TV at the moment… 😛

        1. That’s no excuse…. 😉

    2. Abbi

      Your soft spot for 80’s teen movies is really coming out! I like Ferris Bueller but it never hit me like Breakfast Club did… and you should totally watch it all the way through.

      1. MIB

        At the risk of revealing my age, that’s because I WAS a teen during the 80’s! 😛

  3. Another excellent top ten, Abbi! 🙂 You know I love a good top ten. I need to get back to doing more too! Dazed & Confused was the first one that came to mind – glad to see it here. The only ones I’ve not seen here are 71 & La Haine (which I believe is a Top 250 one I need to watch anyway). You’ve made me want to watch Empire Records again soon – I know you love that one! My hubby likes it a lot too but I don’t remember it all that well now. Hey – I’ve realized where I’m now reading blogs during the week more instead of weekends, I’ve been missing your Film Fridays! I’ll catch up on those soon!!

    1. Abbi

      Empire Records is so endlessly quotable and so 90’s… and the 90’s for me is like the 80’s for you 🙂

      La Haine is very powerful. I would highly recommend it!

  4. great choices!

    I would add 12 Angry Men, Black Hawk Down, Gravity, Die Hard, United 93, Groundhog Day (does that count?) and High Noon

    1. those are all great additions, Rob.

    2. Abbi

      Gravity is an excellent shout. I haven’t see 12 Angry Men but it’s on my list. I have to admit that I fell asleep during Black Hawk Down. Lol! And I think Groundhog Day counts.

  5. Great list!! I immediately thought of Irreversible (also with Vincent Cassel) which is pretty devastating to watch and a movie called Coherence that I just reviewed.
    I’m so happy that Before Sunrise is on this list!! I love it and the other two that follow it. Such a great series.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! I haven;t seen either of those but I am going to add them to my list. I love Vincent Cassel.

      1. Me too, he’s very talented

  6. “Real Time” is cool. I would add ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Run Lola, Run’. 🙂

    1. Abbi

      I am one of the very few people who totally doesn’t get Die Hard…I tried again over Christmas last year and I still think it’s dumb. 😦

      1. That’s okay! It is dumb. But fun to watch him walk barefoot over the broken glass.

        1. Abbi

          Hahahaha! That’s so mean! I love it!

  7. theipc

    Great post, Mistress!

    Next up, I would like to see a vid of you doing the Empire Records dance. Thanks in advance!

    1. Abbi

      Wearing the Music Town apron?

      1. theipc

        I’m always afraid of what I can put out here…. : (

        1. Abbi

          I didn’t say JUST the Music Town apron…

          1. theipc


  8. Dude, From Dusk Till Dawn!!

    1. Abbi

      Great choice!

  9. Also, I went down the list like this “No, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes.” hehehe :-p

    1. Abbi

      I am just glad there were some yeses!

  10. Very cool post! I LOVE Before Sunrise and omg Vincent Cassel is so sexy!

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! He really is, isn’t he? I’m not sure what it is about him but he has amazing sex appeal.

      1. He just exudes it. It’s amazing.

  11. Great picks here! Some movies don’t need to span a lifetime to be good!

    1. Abbi

      I really believe there are certain days that change the whole course of you life.

  12. Wow what a great post!! I have seen almost all of them and you picked great ones.

    1. Abbi

      It’s one of my favourite genres if you can call it that.

      1. Yes it’s a good one and I have never seen any posts on that topic/genre.

  13. Great idea, and great picks! Another favorite of mine, that I don’t think anybody mentioned yet, is Friday. I still haven’t seen any of the sequels yet, but I loved the original.

    1. Abbi

      Excellent choice! One of my mum’s favourites.

  14. Hannah

    My favorite movie set in one day is Dog Day Afternoon, great film.

    1. It’s an excellent choice. Such an unusual storyline and made even more tense by the fact that it’s based on a true story!

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