BEFORE SUNSET (2004)

before+sunset

Christopher

I never really thought twice about Ethan Hawke before starting this trilogy but now I think he’s a pretty fantastic actor. This trilogy is so fucking great so far. What I love most is how their dialogue reflects their age. In Before Sunrise they talk a lot about the world, and in this they talk more about their own experiences. I predict that the third one will involve death in some way, even if just a topic of conversation, but I cannot wait to see Before Midnight.

These movies are definitely films I will watch many more times in my life. I’m still disappointed it took me so long to see them but I’m grateful Elizabeth finally made me sit down to watch!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I don’t get it. I don’t get how it’s possible. How can someone make a movie as perfect as Before Sunrise and manage to make a sequel that is just as perfect and sticks to the formula of Before Sunrise without just being a rehashing of it? I don’t know, but it happened, and it’s Before Sunset and it’s amazing.

Part of what makes Before Sunrise so fantastic is how natural it is. Both movies are almost all dialogue, and Before Sunrise does natural dialogue perfectly. Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) seem like strangers when they meet in the beginning and by the end seem like old lovers. Before Sunset does the same thing; the dialogue is so natural that it only feels like a movie in that we know and love these characters from the first movie so well. We find out that while Jesse went back to Vienna six months after the end of Before Sunrise to meet Céline as planned, but she was not there because her grandmother unexpectedly died and she was in Budapest for the funeral. When they meet again, that question is answered pretty quickly, so the audience doesn’t need to wonder any longer after 9 years if it happened.

It’s just so incredible how good Delpy and Hawke are, especially together. When they meet again, there’s that distinct happiness and awkwardness that comes from seeing an old love. Granted, this has never happened to me, but it reminded me of when I would see a boy I had a crush on on the first day of school after not seeing him all summer. Céline and Jesse quickly fall back into their easy conversation, catching each other up on everything. Jesse is married with a child and Céline has a boyfriend. But from the beginning, there’s much more sex or sex-like talk between them than there had been in Before Sunrise. That’s another thing that makes it so realistic. Remember how insane it was to talk about sex before you were having it? In high school I could barely talk about sex, and most certainly not with a male. I couldn’t even talk about it with the guy I was dating, except in code. Then flash forward almost 10 years later and Chris and I easily talked about sex before we even started dating. Céline and Jesse weren’t virgins in Before Sunrise, but they were obviously more inexperienced and nervous. By the time of Before Sunset, they’re in their 30’s, have lived with partners, and Jesse already has a kid. I just loved how subtle that was to show how they and their relationship have grown and aged with time.

Even though they’re both in relationships, as Céline and Jesse walk around Paris it comes up more than once that Jesse wishes Céline had been in Vienna that day, and she implies that she wishes that, too. The deeper into their conversation they go, the more things come out about how they feel for each other. Jesse loves his son more than anything and likes and respects his wife and wants her to be happy, but he knows the marriage is not working and he’s not happy. Céline cares for her boyfriend but doesn’t seem particularly attached, plus he’s a photojournalist and gone all the time. Then they get into a sort of argument, where Jesse admits how unhappy he is and how much he wishes he had the life he thinks he could have had had Céline met him in Vienna. And Céline admits that she feels like she poured all of her love and romantic thoughts into her one night with Jesse and will forever not be happy in love. When Jesse is talking about being unhappy, an amazing thing happens. They’re in a car together, looking at each other and then nervously looking out their windows as the conversation gets deeper. jesse is upset, almost on the verge of tears, and when he looks away out his window, Céline puts her hand up to his head like she wants to touch him, to comfort him, but he looks at her before she can and she puts her hand down. This moment is such a perfect sequel to my favorite moment in Before Sunrise, when they keep nervously looking at each other and then looking away. It’s so great.

Another great thing I loved about this is how much Céline and Jesse try to stall saying goodbye. When they meet up, it’s just to have coffee before Jesse has to catch a plane. But after they have coffee, Jesse suggests that they walk around Paris for a little bit. Then when walking around, they see a tourist boat thing that they get on and Jesse calls his driver to meet him at the boat’s next stop. When they get off the boat and meet the driver, Jesse suggests they drop Céline off at her apartment. When they get to her apartment, Jesse tells the driver he’s walking her to her door. When they get to her door, Jesse asks to come up so she’ll play a song for him, and they do. Every time Jesse suggests something, Céline says something about how he has to catch a flight, but she never pushes it. It just reminded me of the night before Chris’ 25th birthday, which was also the night where we told each other our feelings for the first time. The whole night we were together I was constantly thinking about how I was going to tell him I liked him, but I was too scared, so I kept suggesting we do stuff to stall him from leaving. I’m sure on some level he knew what I was doing, just like Jesse and Céline both know that they’re stalling because they want to be together.

I can’t wait to see Before Midnight. I don’t know where the story will go from here, but I didn’t know where the story would go after Before Sunrise and it ended up being amazing. It’s going to be great.

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