Guest blogger - Mr. Movie writes about *Before Sunrise*
I recently went on a Before Sunrise movie binge. I'd bought myself a double feature of Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) knowing that Before Midnight was currently in theaters. So one night I watched my double feature back-to-back and the next night I went to see Before Midnight at a local cinema.
(Before Sunrise, 1995)
Before Sunrise is a Richard Linklater film starring Ethan Hawke as Jesse and Julie Delpy as Celine. They are in their early 20s and traveling on a train going from Budapest to Paris via Vienna. Jesse is an American with a Eurail pass and Celine is a Parisienne graduate student on her way back from visiting her grandmother. Jesse is due to fly back to the States the next morning from Vienna. The two of them strike up a conversation and Jesse persuades Celine to get off the train with him in Vienna and walk around the city together.
So yes, it's the simplest of plots, but the two of them have obvious chemistry and their conversations have a verisimilitude often lacking in romantic movies. Jesse is an articulate, smooth-tongued young romantic. Whereas Celine is maybe a little neurotic but open to romance. At one point in the movie she says how she doesn't believe in mystical or religious things but believes there's a magic in two people connecting. This movie has that magic and the two leads act it out so convincingly.
By the time they have to say their goodbyes, they each confess that they want to see each other again. They set a date six months in the future at the very train station where they part.
It's a charming movie full of ideas and it reminds me what it feels like to be a twentysomething in a world full of possibilities.
(Before Sunset, 2004)
Before Sunset, the sequel, picks up nine years later. Jesse has written a book fictionalizing his night with Celine and is on a book tour. The last stop on his tour is a Q&A session at Shakespeare & Co. and it's there that Celine finds him again. What follows is a long conversation between the two of them as they walk around Paris just before Jesse is due to catch a plane home.
Before Sunset is short at a run time of 80 minutes, but it plays out in real time and I think it is even more affecting than its predecessor. As Jesse and Celine reconnect, a series of revelations emerge which ratchet up the feelings between them. The scene in the car together is especially intense. This intensity is almost like a suspense movie in that you find yourself rooting for them reconnect and rekindle what they had. And the final scene is just brilliant.
The two of these movies together make for one of the most romantic stories ever and the characters feel like they could really exist.
(Before , 2013)
Then, in Before , another nine years have passed and Jesse and Celine are at the tail end of a vacation in Greece. This third movie is very different in tone, yet the characters are fully believable as fortysomething versions of themselves. Life has gotten more complicated and messy. I did not enjoy this movie as much as the first two. I would have liked to have seen less fighting and more reconnecting. Nevertheless, the characters are too fascinating to just leave alone. They stick with you. And, well, life does get more complicated and messy.
I even then re-watched the first two movies and was struck by how well the events in each movie resonate in each successive movie. These movies are so well-written that you really get to know these characters. And many of the conversations that Jesse and Celine have are very thought-provoking.
I think the overarching theme of these movies is connection and its importance in life. As Celine says in Before Sunset: "Everyone wants to believe in love." And also, "... to truly communicate with people is very hard to do."