I love, love, love this movie. I watched it again last night, and there is nothing I would change about it, not one thing. A few years ago, some girl friends of mine decided to rent it to see what I was raving about, and their reactions were bored and quizzical at best. Nothing happens, they complained. Oh, but so much does. Two people discover each other slowly, tentatively, with growing joy. It is a marvelous thing to watch.
On the surface, my friends were right. This isn’t your typical Hollywood fare where you are made to sympathize with lovers as they struggle against the world or even against themselves, until love finally triumphs and they fall into each other’s arms to the accompaniment of a sweeping score. In Before Sunrise, the story is something that can happen to you and me, and might even be happening now, somewhere in the world. Two young people, Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) meet on a train and start talking. They spend several hours getting to know each other. Knowing that their time together is fleeting, they decide to be “rational adults” about it and just enjoy each other’s company without unrealistic expectations. No declarations of undying love are spoken. It is unnecessary — we can see how they look at each other anyway.
I’m not going to do another review. I already reviewed it here, Before Sunrise, as well as its sequel, Before Sunset (SPOILER ALERT for both). This post is just a way of relishing the delight that always lingers after I watch that film. In a way, I feel almost like a voyeur. Their interaction is so genuine that it feels like there is no camera, no movie, just a real conversation between two very interesting, likable people. There’s this scene in a music store where he looks at her and she looks at him, then they both glance away, not wanting to be caught — and it’s such a sweet, private moment that I feel both giddy for them and a little embarrassed to have witnessed it. I wish there could be more films like this one.