Aug 22, 2010

Before Sunset (2004) - the l'amour that got away

directed by Richard Linklater / starring Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

My top 5 Paris movies, #3

I love this film to pieces. Seriously. It (and its predeccedor, Before Sunrise) is the most recent add to my unofficial list of the ultimate favourite movies. (I think it has five movies on it at the moment. Or, Before Sunrise/Sunset count as one, and one of the five is a trilogy. And the line between an ultimate favourite and a favourite is extremely narrow and faltering. Anyway.) Not just any movie gets to be on the list. They need to move me, a lot, again and again. This one does.

Nine years has past since the night Jesse and Celine spent together in Vienna. Now they meet again in Paris, where Jesse is promoting his new book (about a French girl he once spent a night with. Hmm). They have about an hour before Jesse has to head back to the States, and they spend it talking - about their present lives, about the uncertain future and of course about the past and the big WHAT IF.

What holds the film up is the chemistry between the two characters, the talents of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke - and obviously the dialogue. After all, all they do in these films is talking and walking! In addition, the events of Before Sunset happen in real time, so we get to see every move they make and hear every word they say, which is awesome, and makes it so damn real. Yeah, REAL. That's the word I can't repeat enough times when talking about these films. They just feel SO DAMN REAL.

It's been a couple of months since I last saw this film, and now writing a post about it started to feel like I should see it again. So I thought it could play in the background while I'd be writing. Yeah right. Surprisingly, I didn't write a word. God, what a film.

 I was glad to notice that the book shop in the beginning is actually Shakespeare and Company! Shame I didn't know it before, I could've milked more out of the visit. Anyway, a cool notice!

As Jesse and Celine meet again, the conversation follows a plausible pattern. First they're all awkward, of course, but quickly move on into some casual chit-chat ("How are you?" "Oh, just fine!" And of course they aren't). When they realise the other hasn't changed that much and they still share that amazing chemistry and connection, they start talking like they used to, like there hadn't been a nine-year-gap between their encounters. And finally they go deep and say the things they'd been thinking about all the time.

Before Sunset has a lot long, continuous shots. They just go on and on, and suddenly you think wow, they've had entire conversations in just one shot! Though the film trusts a lot on the power of good dialogue and speech, they know when silence says more than anything. I'm talking about the short scene in the staircase. Just amazing.

Before Sunset manages to be romantic and dramatic without being corny or cheesy for one second, or resorting to any cliches. I found myself smiling stupidly most of the time, and was just happy that I was watching the film alone. I don't know if there's such thing as soul mates, but if there were, this is the kind of 'soulmatehood' I'd very much like to experience myself. (Hello. It might feel real, but it's still a movie. Best regards, the killjoy me.)

The wonderful ending leaves room for imagination... and a sequel? Someone in the film's IMDb board had a wonderful idea: they should keep making films about Celine and Jesse once in a decade, following their lives, as the audience and the actors would grow older with them. I think I'd cry for joy if they actually did that. Jesse and Celine are such amazing characters, and it's so cool to compare how they'd changed and matured since Before Sunrise. I'm certainly holding all of my fingers and toes up in hopes of another sequel.

"So, I want to try something."
  "I want to see if you stay together or if you dissolve into molecules."
"How am I doing?"
"Still here."
"Good, I like being here.

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