April 30, 2011

#126: Before Sunrise (6/10)

I'm still way behind on my movie watching, but I did manage to catch up with a 1995 Richard Linklater film known as Before Sunrise. I'd really never hear of it back in the day, but I was pretty young when it came out. The film was referenced a couple times on the Filmspotting podcast, so when I saw it on Netflix instant I decided to check it out. I had no clue what it was going to be like, but I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Before Sunrise is about an American traveling in Europe. He meets a French girl on the train and they decide to spend the day together until they will be forced to part ways. It is amazing that almost nothing happens in this film. They don't really do anything. However, they do talk a lot. Almost the entire movie is one conversation after another between the two characters. This type of "talkie" film doesn't appeal to everyone. If I'd watched it maybe 8 years ago I would have hated it. When I realized what it was, I probably would have turned it off.

Not only would it have been boring to sit there and watch two people talk, but the stuff they were talking about would have driven my younger self insane. They have this young pretentiousness about them that I absolutely hated. Only now am I able to find that early 20's naiveté somewhat endearing. I found their conversations to be interesting only because I realized that they were written by an older individual who is almost analyzing the sentiment rather than trying to make us believe these characters would actually interact this way. I appreciated that.

As unlikely as the relationship is; it is carried out in a very genuine way. I have to commend Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for their performances. They are on screen from beginning to end. It is their film to carry, and they do an admirable job. There are a few moments that made me cringe, but I had to remember it was made in a less cynical time, and should be watched with a less cynical eye. For me it would be a good tip to look at everything a little less cynically.

For the few goofy moments there were plenty more lovely ones. I especially liked the scene in the record store where they are standing in the listening booth together. It was just awkward enough to feel real, and that made it relatable. Just like those moments in real life, it went on a little too long before the tension was broken. Watching it made me a little uncomfortable, but not nearly as much as I would have been if I were in a real situation like that. It did a good job at capturing that essence. Those moments made me think of the film Once. It is a similar story. I think Once is better, but Before Sunrise succeeds at bringing the same genuine sentiment to the screen. In Once they use music, Before Sunrise uses spoken word, but in both films the connection is there. At the ending of each the emotions are much different, but they both feel real.

Before Sunrise is a nice little film. I'm definitely interested in now seeing the 2004 film, Before Sunset, which revisits these same characters 9 years later. I'm not sure the first one was ever meant to have a sequel, and it could be a disaster, but I still really want to see it. The final scene of Before Sunrise makes you want to spend more time with this couple, so I am in for Before Sunset. If the sequel is a giant mess it could retroactively ruin the first film for me, but as of now I have no problem recommending Before Sunrise. Be aware that not a lot goes on... but it is a decent romantic drama. However, if you have yet to see Once I would strongly urge you to check that one out first.

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