Before Sunrise

Synopsis: Yesterday strangers, today inseparable soulmates. But separate they must in just a few hours. Jesse and Celine are making every moment count, pouring as much living as they can into the time Before Sunrise.

From Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused) comes another smartly observed tale of young people at a crossroads. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play twentysomethings who meet on a train in Europe, sense a connection and explore after-hours Vienna together. The people, places and allure of the city become their sudden itineraries. Love is their destination. On the way there’s the mutual sharing of hope, jokes, dreams, worry and wonder. It’s a day to linger in their memories. And a valentine to young love forever.

Before Sunrise 8.5

Ethan Hawke is an a pretentious @$$-hat. For me, watching him in a movie is (to paraphrase Edmond Rostand) like watching a snail crawling on a beautiful rose. He’s down there in my triumvirate of most reviled actors along with Kevin Costner and Keanu Reeves.

Having said that, I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw this movie for the first time, some eight years ago. With a sacharine title, an uninspiring cast and the feeble assumption that it was “your standard romantic drama”, I refused to have anything to do with it – until it fell into my hands during a bulk DVD buy, that is. Despite my utterly complete scepticism, I gave it a chance… and I’m really, really glad that I did.

‘Before Sunrise’ is about two people who meet while traveling and who have less than one day together. Seems like a pretty basic set-up, right?

Thankfully, the movie, instead of being mired in syrupy romantic cliches, connects a series of little moments in time that feel true-to-life, that aren’t Hollywood posturing. Here, you can’t help but get the impression that Jesse and Celine totally enjoy peeling away each other’s layers – even if they both recognize the limitations inherent to their situation.

The dialogue is the magic ingredient here: these two people are fleshed out by intelligent, inquisitive minds who conjure up real questions, discuss real issues and take real positions. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the balance between reality and romance that makes it work.

It’s pretty much a tribute to the screenwriters who, one can only imagine, must have based their screenplay on personal experiences. It simply doesn’t feel like fiction: I’m sure pretty much everyone has had a day like this one (albeit not capture for the silver screen). And if they haven’t, they damned well should.

What also makes it wonderful to watch is the fact that they, and we, know that it’s all just one day – one day that they will remember forever, untarnished by time, unblemished by the constraints of everyday life. For them, it’s simply that perfect day.

Heck, even Ethan Hawke can’t cast a cloud over this one (although it was hard to not imagine someone -anyone- else in his place)


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