Thursday, December 25, 2008

Before Sunset

So what is this one about?
What is this one about? This one is about me. It is not really about me, but it strikes a chord so deeply within me that it may as well be.

What it is actually about is this, and because I love this movie so much I will take the long description from wikipedia...

Nine years have passed since the events of Before Sunrise, when Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) had met in Vienna. Since then, Jesse has written a novel, This Time, inspired by his time in Vienna with Celine, and the book has become a minor success, with Jesse doing a book tour. The last stop of the tour across Europe is Paris, and Jesse is doing a reading at the bookstore Shakespeare and Company. As Jesse talks with his audience, flashbacks are seen of him and Celine in Vienna; the memories of their night together have clearly remained with him despite it being nine years later. Celine appears in the audience and sees him and he, in turn, recognizes her. Jesse has a short time before his plane departs, and invites Celine to share it with him.

As they talk, each reveals what has happened since their first meeting. Both are now in their mid thirties. Jesse, now a writer, is married and has a son. Celine has become an advocate for the environment, lived in America for a time, and has a boyfriend, a photojournalist. It becomes clear in the course of their talk, both are dissatisfied to varying degrees with their lives. Jesse reveals that he only stays with his wife out of love for his son. Celine says that she does not see her boyfriend very much because he is so often on assignment.

As they recall their prior meeting in Vienna, they slowly approach the subject of why they did not meet as promised, six months after their first encounter. It turns out that Jesse had returned to Vienna, as promised, but Celine did not, because her grandmother had suddenly died before the scheduled date of the meeting. Because Jesse and Celine had never exchanged addresses, there was no way for them to communicate with each other and to learn what the other was doing, or what had happened.

Their conversation as they traverse Paris places them in various venues, including a café, a garden, a bateau mouche, and Jesse's hired car for his stay in Paris. Their old feelings for each other are slowly rekindled, even with tension and regret over the missed meeting earlier, as they realize that nothing else in their lives has matched their one prior night together in Vienna. Jesse even admits that he wrote the book in the distant hope of meeting Celine again one day.
(then there is more, but the description becomes too romantical and spoilery, so, thats what you get!)

And how much did I pay to watch?
Well, I own this. So, technically I didn't pay anything. Except that when I went to go watch this the dvd was broken and unplayable. So I had to go buy a new copy at good ol' Best Buy, and I think that cost like $14.99 or something. Whatevs.

And what did I think?
God, it is so hard to me to explain what I think about this movie while still keeping what is mine to myself. Lets just say, I can relate to this film...but it isn't why you think. It really isn't. I don't know if anyone would be able to correctly idenitify who, and why I associate so much with this movie.

But beyond my personal idenifitication with the story, I identify with it because this movie epitomizes everything I think is romantic. Sick, but romantic. I've always been very touched, and broken, by love stories that aren't rom com happy endings. Endings like Dark Blue World, that shows that love sometimes can't defeat war, endings like The End of the Affair (or even Forrest Gump) that says love cannot defeat sickness, and endings like Attonement (the book, not the movie) that tell us that sometimes love doesn't promise a happy ending. Sometimes love is just love. It can be fleeting, and intangible, and sometimes it isn't given the time and attention it deserves. Maybe it is because I always thought there was something romantic about loneliness. Or maybe I thought there was something romantic about suffering. I realize as I get older, of course, that suffering and loneliness aren't really romantic, unless it is on a movie that people can watch. In real life people suffer alone, and it is miserable. BUT, that isn't the point.

The point is that the actors in this movie are able to actually communicate what I just said on film. And the pain, and longing, and miserableness they feel actually jumps off the screen. These two actors have such amazing, incredible, unbeatable chemisty that the audience actually feels like they are watching Celine and Jesse pull themselves apart for eachother. Throughout the film there are lumps that well up in my throat because they are so real in their portrayals. It just rips you apart.

Or, it rips me apart. And that is why I love this film.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Like you even needed to ask, this one gets a 10. It is the most cathartic, personal film experience I know. And I have no idea if it translates as such to other people, but I would be very curious to hear from you if you have seen this.


Matthew Barney Gumble said...

I always knew that I would love this and the first one. Actually, I remember my parents going to see Before Sunrise in the theater. I was too young and so was in a different movie (don't remember which) but I distinctly remember in the car ride home them describing the movie (and how they hated it) and thinking "that sounds pretty good."

Anyway, I don't know why I waited until this year to watch them, because it's basically all the things I usually love in movies, and wow, was I not wrong. Bravo to you, Linklater. I am glad I didn't have to wait for the sequel and could watch them back to back. Although I wonder what it would've been like, going ten years or whatever not know what happened with them, y'know? It kind of ruins it to know, at a bare minimum, they're going to meet again.

this is not a joke said...

I think you're exactly right. I think I was too young to understand this movie when it was new, though I have apparently seen it before. I will be getting it via netflix tomorrow and think it will be a little ruined by knowing that they do meet again.

I heard somewhere, probably on wikipedia again, that Linklater is considering making another one. I think Jesse probably stayed in Paris. He and Celine are the most perfect together ever...

Matthew Barney Gumble said...

Oh wow! Another one! Nonono, see, this, even just this glimmer of a possibility, the fact that Linklater even thinks there could be more story to tell, recasts the whole thing for me! Before Sunset is, I mean, I think it's the perfect happy ending. I didn't see any room in that ending for Jesse going back to the states or anything like that. I know it's naive or oversimplified or something but honestly I assumed they never really left her (perfect) walkup after that.

Another movie would take that fairytale ending (in Paris, man - jeez) and bring it back to reality. I guess I'm not even sure how to feel about that. The thing that was so great about Sunrise was how real it felt, how natural the magic was. And it ends and you have no idea if it's gonna work out - realistic. Sunset gives you the happy ending life never really does.

Thinking about it, Linklater really doesn't usually dumb it down or make it easy (school of rock & bad news bears excepted), so this doesn't really surprise me, I guess. I'm for it. Actually, can you imagine how witty and amazing their breakup scenes would be? Also Hawke and Delpy are getting nice and wrinkly now, too, wow.

Actually, yeah, I want to see him tear down what he made. I want to see a new version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I think they could pull it off. I think it'd be worth it.