Wednesday 29 December 2004

Before Sunrise (1995) - ickleReview (DVD)

The greatest love story ever told. A film by Richard Linklater starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as young twentysomethings who meet on a train from Budapest and decide to get off in Vienna to spend the night wandering around the city together, talking. Simply some of the best dialogue ever written for the movies. They have philosphical, radical, everyday sort of conversations that scratch away that bit deeper than most of us manage. It's wonderfully romantic and ends with such simplicity: the places that they visited together are shown in the cold hard light of the following morning: empty, except for the filmic memories of them together, like a warm breeze blowing through autumn leaves.

Linklater followed this with the best sequel I have ever seen, Before Sunset, which changes the way you think about the first movie if you've seen them both before. (Yes, it's better even than The Godfather: Part II!) And yet the sequel stands by itself as well. Hawke and Delpy are so natural together. In Before Sunrise there's a scene with them listening to a record together in a soundproof booth, where, as one turns to look, the other one looks away, only to look back again. These characters live and breathe in your mind. Watching it for the third time today, I came to realize just how much it has shaped the way I see the world: not only love and relationships, but death and cynicism, adulthood, conversation, and rationalism versus optimism.

Nugget: well worth the hassle finding an Australian import on eBay; even though they're releasing both films together in a box set on 7 February 2005!


  1. I watched this film again today (for the fourth time?) and it remains one of my favourites. What I noticed this time was how silly Ethan Hawke lets himself look sometimes in the way he walks and gestures, mainly because his character is so relaxed. Most of the film is in suspended time, as if the evening will never end, making the dawn and the impending goodbye all the more painful. Jesse, the Hawke character, says in the morning, "We're back in real time." The movie has the same effect on its viewers. We are just as sad to leave Jesse and Celine as they are to leave each other.

  2. It is good isn't it! I must watch this again too! (like the reviews!)

  3. Fifth (?) viewing tonight. Noticed something new: they meet on Bloomsday: 16 June - the day on which James Joyce's "Ulysses" is set and on which Joyce is supposed to have dated Nora Barnacle for the first time. A coincidence? I think not.

    This film is coloured by the sequel. It no longer feels so painful knowing that they are going to see each other again.

  4. Watched this again on Monday 28 May. Finally got Fran to stay awake the whole way through after two previous failed attempts. Still love it. It’s one of my all-time favourite films.