Before Sunrise

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Director: Richard Linklater

I wanted to put the reviews for Before Sunrise and Before Sunset together in one post, but I don't think I will do justice to it, so doing it separately. After finding out that Before Midnight was going to hit the screens next week, it was impossible to watch that without knowing/rewatching the first two. Hence, my Before marathons. Before Sunrise introduces us to Jesse and Celine, two people who happened to meet each other on a train, and decided to spend one night together in Vienna before they had to leave, Jesse back to America and Celine going to Paris.

In the span of 90 minutes, we get to go deep inside their thoughts, their wants and their dreams, as they strolled the night away. They talked about many things, many different things, things that never failed to lose us in their conversation. As it progressed, we get to know more about who Jesse and Celine really are, and we watch, as their conversations spark a connection: physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Before Sunrise instills in us the concept of romanticism. I think it's what everyone dreams of: to have an actual connection with someone, even if some of your opinions are on polar opposites, but what matters is that you're open to getting to know the person better. It's about being spontaneous, and not holding yourself back. I think that's what everyone wants in a relationship: someone that they can be open to, and not have to censor themselves, and think that the other person might be judging them. Celine and Jesse showed what a pure connection could entail, even if it means the possibility of never seeing other again. Even the scenes entailed romanticism, from the tension filled recording room, to that pretend phone call scene, down to their last goodbyes.

Their conversations seem timeless, thus making this movie fit for people in their late teens or early twenties. It's because where they are, what they're talking about, what they're doing, is exactly where those people are (me included). We all have this notions and ideas and thoughts, and wouldn't it be nice to share it with someone that not only accepts these notions, and ideas, and thoughts, but have substance within themselves? I know we have friends for that, but this is something more. It's that connection that only two people share that we look for. What they have, where they're at, is what we are looking for, or so I'd like to think. 

It helps that Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke gave such great performances, that it's hard to think that their entire meeting was scripted. Movies don't usually forge connections like this, but they do. There was no censorship, or they didn't bring the Hollywood notion of 'this is how you're supposed to fall in love, and these are the nonsense things you talk about'. They didn't play stereotypical characters. They bring out in life the questions, the thoughts, the ideas, that might be lingering in our head. Add their chemistry, the script, and the setting -- it all seems unreal, but what they're trying to represent is something real. They bring realism to a world of fiction. 

It might not be every one's cup of tea, watching the same two people converse for 90 minutes. I think it's more than what they talk about, but what they represent, that draws people in their relationship. At some point in our lives, we can say that we relate to them. This film doesn't feed us the typical notions of what romance is, or how it should go, but it gives us a glimpse of a kind of reality that we're in, and how their being represents who we are at some point in time. 


  1. Great review. I agree that this film (and its subsequent sequels) aren't necessarily about what the characters discuss, but rather what they represent. That was a fine way to put it.

  2. Lovely review. It's not the best of the three, but it's still smart, profound, and beautiful, no matter how many years go by. Even thinking about it still stays clear in my mind as I still get their bits and pieces of ideas stuck in my head.