Before Sunrise (1995)


Before Sunrise
A Review by Ben Hunter
4½ Out of 5 Stars

“Well, he convinced me [to get off the train with him].  I mean, actually I was ready to get off the train with him after talking with him a short while.  He was so sweet I couldn’t help it.  We were in the launch car and he began to talk about him as a little boy seeing his great grandmother’s ghost … I think that’s when I fell for him.”

In a small bar in Vienna, Celine (Julie Delpy), reveals her inner most true feelings about Jesse (Ethan Hawke), the boy she met earlier in the day on a train to this city she had no plans of spending the day within.  So the two cross paths unexpectedly and decide to spend the day together in Vienna before Jesse’s plane leaves the next morning or “before sunrise”.

As the day progresses we learn how they feel about life, love, relationships, the sadness of war, the beauty in life, as well as what it means to liberated and free.  They visit the beautiful sites of Vienna taking in every moment, living it and experiencing it.  Passing time soon becomes intricately wanting to get to know the person you’re sharing an experience with.  Sharing an experience soon becomes having a bond with that person, a person whom you’ve just met.  What connects total strangers to no longer feel the distance that strangers feel to have what feels like an instant and intimate connection? 

“Just the idea of this little boy with all these beautiful dreams.  He trapped me (smile)!  And he’s so cute, he has beautiful blue eyes, nice pink lips, greasy hair, ha ha I love it!  He’s kind of tall and he’s a little clumsy.  I like to feel his eyes on me when I look away.  He kind of kisses like an adolescent, it’s kind of cute.  It was so adorable.  As the night went on I began to like him more and more … but I’m afraid he’s scared of me.”

Day turns to night and the two are inseparable as they discuss everything in detail and become open books eagerly wanting to know more about the other and how they are, how they handle different situations and scenarios, talking through the obstacles that two strangers meeting and spending time together would experience.  They have civilized and adult conversations as any topic is fair game and the subject of their personal love lives arise, hinting at possible interest in the other as the two gently probe another, reveal their hearts inner most desires, and just enjoy opening up and sharing who they really are and truly live in the company of another human being. 

Director Richard Linklater really depicts what it means to just let your guard down and not be afraid to live your life, sharing it with those you know and love, as well as those you meet along the journey.  I love the simplicity yet complex nature that this story entails.  It’s just two people spending the day together taking in the city in a semi-“touristy” way, yet really just wanting to know more about the other, so different experiences in the city help them to realize this and they connect more and more.  They talk, get into sophisticated yet down to earth discussions about how they feel about certain topics and issues in the world as the conversation intertwines with what they experience in Vienna.  Making the story flow perfectly and feel like one big adventure that’s actually quite complex and not so simple after all.  I LOVE stories like that!

I really loved the elegance that Julie Delpy resonates in the film.  She has a beauty to her that radiates a romantic and beautiful poise, which comes off as a woman in true connection with her femininity, truly at one with who she is as a person still learning, living, and growing.  So it was kind of cool to see her have a down to earth nature and find the little qualities in Ethan Hawke’s American kid type of character amazing.  Here’s a guy that’s forced to go along with the established order of his family and of society but he’s really just trying to break free and find the established order of his own life and make sense of it all.  I can truly attest to that.  I feel that Celine really sensed this as well and could truly appreciate his vulnerability from the very beginning before they even decided spend the day together.  I feel this is probably why she decided to change her plans for a stranger; someone she probably felt deep down would be a significant part of her life and a stranger for a very short time.

The beauty in each character was well fleshed, well written, and both have a quality that makes me think the two were “felt” and not “thought of” when created; a magic that can’t be duplicated.  To feel the innocence of each character really come to life as the story unfolds … it’s the stuff that dreams are made of!

“You know I told him the story about the woman who kills her ex-boyfriend and stuff, he must be scared to death.  He must be thinking I’m this manipulative, mean, woman.  I just hope he doesn’t feel that way about me; because you know me, I’m the most harmless person, the only person I could really harm is myself.”

Before Sunrise
Romance, 105 Minutes, R
Written by: Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Cast: Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy

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