Some 20 years ago, Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise was released, a simple but effective film featuring just two leads, a train, some walking, and a lot of talking.
I first watched Before Sunrise and its then only sequel in January 2013. I gave both films four out of five stars, calling Before Sunrise ‘captivating’.
The premise of Before Sunrise is minimalist: two strangers meet on a train and spend the evening together walking around the city that they’ve arrived in. The beauty is that what happens is very subtle; there are no fanfares or fireworks, just talking.
In this respect, you could say that Linklater is the antithesis of the likes of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich. Through such films as Before Sunrise and its sequels, Dazed and Confused and Boyhood, Linklater expertly puts the spotlight on life as it happens and not an over-the-top, ‘Hollywood’ version.
Meet Jesse and Celine
After striking up conversation with Frenchwoman Celine (Julie Delpy) on the train, who’s heading back to university in Paris, young American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) decides to try his luck and convince her to join him and get off the train at Vienna.
His flight leaves in the morning and, as he doesn’t have enough money to rent a room, how does the idea of killing some time together by exploring Vienna sound? Why not take a chance and spend this one night together rather than thinking, twenty years down the line, I wonder what would have happened?
A detox from big blockbusters
I featured Before Sunrise in one of my answers for the Life, Love and the Movies blogathon that I participated in during January 2014. I chose Jesse and Celine’s Austrian stroll as my favourite date from a film, saying: “It’s the connection that they share that singles this ‘date’ out as extraordinary.”
I still agree with this.
Over the course of the evening and into the early hours of the next morning, Jesse and Celine talk about a huge variety of topics, from love and past relationships to religion. This deep connection is backed up by a great script, one that Linklater co-wrote with Kim Krizan in order to have an authentic female voice. It’s then further supported by great casting, as Hawke and Delpy are very likable and bring a genuine quality to their roles.
I recommend Before Sunrise, and its sequels, to anyone that would like a detox from big budget blockbusters and to those who enjoy getting to know characters. I’d be surprised if you didn’t feel as though you were in Vienna with Jesse and Celine.
The fact that the film is now 20-years-old won’t impact on your viewing at all. In fact, I’d go as far as to say the only thing that dates it is the fashion and lack of personal technology. Perhaps it’s a detox and thought-provoker in more than way.