Saturday, January 15, 2005

MOVIES: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset

I like director Richard Linklater, but I had never seen his Before Sunrise or Before Sunset. I rented them both this week, and liked them both a great deal.

I think I would have liked Sunrise even better if I had seen it when it first came out, nine years ago, when I was approximately the age of the characters in the movie. The love it speaks of is a younger love, hopeful and naive and uninformed. The way Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) go their separate ways at the end, trusting in little more than fate to reunite them, rather than the practicalities of phone numbers and addresses, is so foolish only a young romantic would ever consider the idea. But, however foolish, the beauty of Vienna, the sweetness and naturalism of the dialogue, the chemistry between the two leads, made me wish I could go back to a time like that, and have a night like that.

Before Sunset is a wonderful continuation, and a far better film. Nine years later, Jesse and Celine meet again in Paris. This time, the love is more mature, wiser, a love with experience, a love filtered through years of regret and resignation. The time they spend together, and the running time of the film itself (only 80 minutes!), are shorter than the first time around, which raises the stakes, lends a sense of urgency to the proceedings. But the two leads are more reluctant to open up to one another this time, and only under the imminent threat of parting ways again, do they finally say the things that have been filling their hearts for all those years. This is one of the smartest, truest, and most romantic of romantic films I've ever seen. And it ends with two perfect words, acknowledging that something is beginning, but promising nothing beyond that.

Interestingly (to me, at least), Linklater's animated film Waking Life appears to have been disregarded when making Sunset. In that film, Hawke and Delpy appeared as their characters from Sunrise, together in bed, in an apparent long-term relationship. But then, Waking Life was all about lucid dreams -- if Jesse and Celine never met in real life between Sunrise and Sunset, maybe they at least met in a dream.

Labels: , ,

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by