Sunday, April 2, 2017

Chris' #89: Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Director: Richard Linklater
Writers: Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Release Date: January 27, 1995

Quick Synopsis: A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together.

First Time
The spring of 2011 is the best I can do; I don't remember where I saw it or any of the other little details.

UPDATE: Jeff reminded me that he introduced this series to me. We did a Before Sunrise/Before Sunset double-feature that day in 2011.

Why it's on the List
From the moment that Celine and Jesse start conversing on the train, it's easy to get sucked in - even with subsequent viewings. This was something that surprised me when I rewatched this yesterday. I know the characters; I know the story...and yet, the opening scene still works like a tractor beam.

The IMDB trivia section for Before Sunrise states that Linklater had a tough time with the casting process. As much as I appreciate the dialogical dominance of the script, I can't imagine Jesse and Celine being played by different actors. I love the idiosyncrasies that Delpy and Hawke bring to film. Reaction shots often have more to say than the actual words of the characters.

Despite the pungent whiffs of romanticism throughout, I also like that the film is willing to ruin its sweeter moments. One of these sweet moments occurs when the street poet reads his milkshake poem to Jesse and Celine. It's clear that Celine is moved by it and that Jesse isn't too impressed. As they walk off, Jesse only wants to focus on the trick behind the magic, asserting that most of it was pre-written. Jesse is jealous of the poet in that moment - a rare one in which Celine's attention turns away from him.

The overanalysis of thoughts and feelings is another aspect of this film that speaks to me. I am an extremely self-conscious person, and both Celine and Jesse are very self-aware. In fact, the pair stop examining certain subjects because they've been discussed ad nauseam by others. This is the case with their conservation on the differences between men and women. Celine quickly becomes grossed out by her own words and thoughts, and it's a nice, familiar moment. The script is honest, which helps to offset any creeping hints of pretension.

Additional Notes/Stats
  • This is the only Linklater film on my list. I'll easily find spots for some of his other work in my 200-101 list.
  • This is it for Ethan Hawke but Julie Delpy is in one more movie on my list.
  • I was considering this and Before Midnight for my #89, but I didn't make time to rewatch the latter. Before Sunrise might be more consistent, but I do enjoy a good, uncomfortable fight. Before Midnight was also the only one that I saw in the theater, and that always helps/adds to the experience.

1 comment:

  1. Thought about adding this myself. Great pick.