I have wanted to watch the “Before” series (which is technically now a trilogy after last year) for quite some time now, but alas they are not on Netflix and I was too lazy to find another means to watch them. So, lo and behold, in my mom’s movie drawer I found Before Sunrise and Sunset, both unopened, prime for watching on my spring break. Now, I do not get to pleasure (agony?) of having to wait nine years between each film, which the director Richard Linklater chose to do, sort of akin to what John Updike with his character, Harry Angstrom. This means that Before Midnight (the latest) which came out last year, was released 18 years after the first film, Before Sunrise, which came out in 1995. Don’t worry, I checked the calculator.
Before Sunrise is a very real film. It follows Jesse and Celine, two people who fatefully meet on a train and then spend the night together in Vienna. There are no fairy-tale dances, or huge romantic gestures, or any of that sort of thing. It is all real (apparently based on a similar experience Linklater had). Ethan Hawke plays Jesse, a somewhat rude and rough-around-the-edges man who finds himself in Vienna after a break up, while Celine, played by Julie Delpy, is on her way back to Paris after visiting her grandmother. The two spend their time just walking around and talking, knowing that the morning is coming.
The chemistry is instant. This is not a good movie to watch if you’re a hopeless romantic because it is basically the most hopeless plot. You meet someone on a train, a plane, a bus, or just on the street and you spend the night together talking and getting to know each other. But what happens when morning comes? Jesse and Celine try to ignore this. They focus on each other, falling for one another, forgetting about the dreadful morning to come. The movie raises a lot of truth in relationships. For the 90s it is on a different level of reality. You feel like you are actually watching two people falling in love.
The two actors, because that’s basically who we only get for the 100 minute movie, carry it strong. Each of the characters is very relatable for the corresponding gender. It is difficult making a film about a single day or short time period with few people, but Hawke and Delpy deliver extraordinarily.
The other thing that struck me about this movie is it doesn’t seem to have aged since 1995. It feels like it could have been released at any time period and it would still have the same effect.
Of course, the end of the night has to come as it always does, and the sun rises just like every morning, but we all know from the beginning of this review that there are two sequels, but that doesn’t mean I am ruining the plot.
So, if you haven’t seen this timeless movie that speaks truths about relationships and features some excellent acting and a beautiful and real story, check this movie out.
And check back for my thoughts on Before Sunset.