I really, really, really, really love Before Sunrise. It’s such a good example of how a solid script and solid actors can carry an entire movie without much going on. The plot is basic: two strangers meet on a train, get off together in Vienna, and spend the night walking around the city and talking and, obviously, falling in love. What’s great is how natural it feels; it doesn’t seem like you’re watching two actors read their lines to each other, instead it really seems like you’re watching people learn about each other and be uncomfortable and nervous and happy and sad and in love. It’s also great because nothing bad happens. When I first saw this movie in middle school, I kept waiting for something awful; the gypsy who reads Celine’s palm was going to pickpocket them, the homeless poet who writes Jesse and Celine a poem was going to attack or rob them somehow . . . I was waiting for some kind of assault to take place. But it doesn’t! It’s nice in the same way that Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II are, but more realistic.
It also has one of my favorite scenes of any movie, which is in the screenshot above. Jesse and Celine, soon after meeting and getting off the train, go into a listening booth of a record store and stand silently while they listen to the record. But they keep looking at each other, but each always looking away when the other looks back. It’s a sweet, nerve-racking scene that feels so true. How many times did I gaze at Chris and look away when he looked at me before we started dating? A LOT. It something that just feels so sweet and young and real.
I’m actually pretty pissed it took me this long to see this movie. It’s too good but it’s also good in a way that makes me sad that’ll I’ll never be able to write and create something as good. This movie would have been an instant favorite if I had seen it in high school but I have to say I think I got more out of it watching it now. I felt like this could happen to me if I was in that situation.