May 8, 2011

#127: Before Sunset (7/10)

Last week I treated myself to a couple of talkies... ones about love you see.  You should have already read my thoughts on Before Sunrise.  I couldn't wait to sit down to see what became of my two favorite jabber mouths. Most people who watched the original film in 1995 had to wait 9 whole years to know if they met in December on that train platform. I cheated the system and only waited mere hours before learning what happened to the young lovers.  I'm not sure if Before Sunset was better or worse because of that.

Celine and Jesse meet again, this time in Paris. Just as before... they walk and they talk. We resume our role as voyeur, taking in their conversational musings on life and love. Just as before there is a pretentiousness that makes each of them unlikable in their own special way. Now they don't have the naivety of youth to use as an excuse.  I am nearly 29 years old. I am much closer in age to the Celine and Jesse in this second film.  Yet, I felt much more connected to the younger versions. There is probably some meaning in that... I should think about that more at a later date.

As we see them now we are to believe that life has been hard on them.  Specifically, life has been a constant struggle to regain the magic that they felt for one night in Vienna.  For neither of them have been able to get as close to grasping on to happiness as they did on that night.  Jesse seems to be the one who has suffered more... thinking about Celine constantly... fantasizing about seeing her on his wedding day.  Okay... What an asshole thing to say.  Not only is he being a jerk-off to his wife, but he is being all douchey to Celine.  Sure he can say that now as he sits alone with her in Paris.

If Jesse is truly unhappy... which we have to believe he is because that is what comes out of his constantly flapping lips... then there is a sense of hope in this film.  Now they have the chance to reconnect... to right the wrongs that fate has caused by keeping them apart for all these years.  If Jesse is just getting nostalgic for their one-night fling... then this could be bad news for everyone.  Celine is aware of this, and guards herself. For the duration of this film she is the question mark. She is the realist, and Jesse is the romantic (even thought he is currently married... to some nagging whore that he apparently can no longer stand).

We start to see Celine bringing down the walls at the end. Jesse apparently has succeeded in his mission. We find out, through the magic of song, that Celine has also been harboring feelings all these years.  What happens now... I guess we have to wait 9 more years to find out.

First off, Linklater kept to the exact same style of the the first film. It is amazing how engaging it is to sit and listen to these two talk. Even though most of what they were saying was pissing me off... it was still able to elicit emotion, which is kinda of amazing.  I was totally in it from beginning to end. It is constant talking. There are a lot of meaningless words going back and forth, but then there are some really fascinating ideas. I liked the way Jesse makes the argument for what has happened to them. It is very well written and succinctly encapsulates the fear of every 30 something. (Not that I would know because I am not quite there yet... but I assuming). 9 years ago they were young and their lives had infinite possibilites, with infiinte paths ahead of them.  Now it is 9 years later and without really realizing it they have chosen paths... completely wiping out the possibilities that would have awaited them if they had turned the other direction at just one fork in the road.  That is pretty compelling stuff.

The way the philosophies of these two characters have changed from one film to the next is the best thing to take away from the duo. In that way Before Sunset compliments and adds to Sunrise.  Either one could be watched on its own and completely enjoyed.  However, the delta between the two is what makes it so interesting.  It is good stuff, and Linklater should be applauded for what he accomplished with them.

As we neared the end of this second film you get a sense that they are each grasping for a few more minutes with one another.  However, it was a much different ending than we saw in Before Sunrise.  I was really feeling it with Sunrise. I felt the emotion there. Not so much with Sunset. If anything... it felt awkward. The way she talks to her pet cat on the way to her apartment. Totally weird. It really took me out of the moment. As we see the last few minutes play out I didn't care nearly as much what happened to these two as I did before. We are left with the open ending, but I was kinda just glad to be out of there.  I could go on just fine never knowing the eventual fates of Jesse and Celine.  Maybe that is what they were going for. I don't know. Still, if in 2013 Hawke and Delpy come together again in... Before High Noon? Before The Vernal Equinox? .... I will surely be there to watch it against my better judgement. Sunrise/Sunset is a thinking man's love story (if that is such a thing), which is so much better than the rom-coms that us males get forced to sit through nowadays.

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