Finally, a romance film up for discussion! Truthfully, I’m a hopeless romantic, haha. I dabble with the rom-coms from time to time and more so the critically romantic classics. Others I like are those “in between” movies. They’re not the masterpiece classics, but they’re not sappy, cheesy comedies… It’s that blissful balance of a conversation piece and wanderlust. It’s the film that you didn’t think you needed, but you can’t help but fall in love with it. In BEFORE SUNRISE, a young American tourist, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets French student Celine (Julie Delpy) by chance on a Euro-train from Budapest to Vienna. When story plots become non existent, here with BEFORE SUNRISE we are given an absolute joy of a night in Vienna. It’s like, “Who needs a plot?!” Well, BEFORE SUNRISE proves to be an exceptionally delightful excursion on its own with the beautiful landscape of dialogue.
The genius that is Richard Linklater (SLACKER, DAZED AND CONFUSED, BOYHOOD) directs this fresh air of a film, and his subtle direction in BEFORE SUNRISE is magical. The directing is just impeccable and so graceful. With ordinary characters, Linklater was able to create something extraordinary between them. Alongside Kim Krizan, Linklater let the writing speak for itself, literally. I love how he stays true to the conversation-as-plot narrative, and the way he always focuses on character and makes it a priority to make the audience invest in these characters more than anything. I can say that the originality is here. Everything falls into place. With continuous shots through the lovely streets at night, it is effortless to follow Jesse and Celine as they discuss love, death, and life, all the while falling in love with each other. To walk the streets at night with someone and forget the world, and to lose yourself into them for one night is euphoric bliss. BEFORE SUNRISE stands out in cinema with its lengthy instrospective dialogue and attention to human experiences.
When you have two people meet in a sort of serendipitous circumstance, I think that’s how sparks can really fly. The film doesn’t have a crucial plot. Jesse and Celine strike up a conversation on the train, they become infatuated with each other, all the while knowing, that this ridiculously random meet will soon have to cease and they will go their separate ways when the train stops. But it’s when the time comes that Jesse realizes maybe there’s more to this. Maybe if he puts himself out there and invites her to take his stop, they will continue the night talking about life , love, and the wonders of one’s purpose. Go ahead and watch the clip below. (Try not to fall prey to Ethan Hawke’s charm, LOL.)
Let it be known that I have an undying love for Ethan Hawke for as long as I can remember. His characters always have this great substance to them and he’s just so lovable! Maybe that’s just my opinion, though. Maybe it’s just me relating to his roles as a writer and this artsy charm to him. But this isn’t the last time we see him play these indie roles. Remember the anthology film, NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU? I reviewed it once upon a time. In one of the shorts, Hawke played this very charming, persistent, ivy cap-wearing writer having a smoke with a chick on the street. It is really gold. Admittedly, I can recite it word for word, but we won’t tell anyone…!
Hawke and Delpy explore their chemistry in BEFORE SUNRISE and it helps the flow of the conversation to become so natural. That foundation alone has molded the film to be so beautiful. A definite favorite of mine. The film would go on to have two more story installments with BEFORE SUNSET (2004) and BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013), making it the ‘Before’ Trilogy. I look forward to reviewing the next two chapters to this wonderful story, so be on the lookout, friends.