Sunday, January 10, 2010

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset

I carry you / You'll carry me / That's how it could be / Don't you know me? / Don't you know me by now?
By no means am I film critic. However, that does not mean that I do not have discerning taste, because I do. I much prefer a low budget, critic's darling to an over the top Hollywood spectacle (though certain superhero movies are an exception). Eyes roll whenever I casually mention an obscure foreign gem or say I haven't seen a universally deemed "classic." But, all of the above notwithstanding, I love a good movie. And I absolutely love Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.*

In Before Sunrise (1995), Jesse meets Celine on a train from Budapest. He spontaneously asks her to get off the train in Vienna (she was supposed to continue to Paris) and spend the afternoon/evening/night with him, since he will be on a flight back to the States in the morning. To their surprise, she agrees. Unsurprisingly, it's totally awkward at first - neither knows what to say to the other - but during the course of the night, they say it all. They have those intelligent but entirely nonsensical conversations about life and death, love and heartbreak that you have with your closest friends. They shop for records, watch street performers, play pinball, drink beers, and kiss. It's both realistic and idealized, in the sense that, should you meet someone in such a way, you'd hope for the same. (At least I would.) What makes the film so charming, though, is that it manages to capture the innocence and spirit of their nascent love without schmaltz.

They meet again in Paris in Before Sunset (2004). I won't reveal under what circumstances, but let's just say much has changed in nine years. He has to leave, again, for a flight to the States, so they decide to walk around the city for an hour or so (the film takes place in real time). At the beginning, they exchange pleasantries, but as the day wears on, they delve into the heavy stuff - fate and circumstances, successes and failures. Since you know these characters, it's neither too melodramatic nor too burdensome. For lack of a better word, like Before Sunrise, it seems real. That being said, the ending always makes me cry.

Out of happiness or sadness? Watch and find out.

*Be warned! What follows may include some spoilers. Now, I won't divulge everything, but maybe just enough to compel you to (re)watch the movies.


Jennifer said...

it's a movie for the blind!!!

Sash said...

hahaha, i should've mentioned, some people find them boring...

JRenee said...

ooh I wanna see them now. I love your love for film.. wish we still lived down the hall from one another.