Before Sunrise (1995)

“Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Andrea Eckert

I imagine it’s like, what every guy dreams of happening, right?

While on a train to Vienna, Jesse, a young American spending a few weeks backpacking in Europe, meets the girl of his dreams the day before his flight back home. With his charm and quite simply, good looks, he convinces sexy parisian Celine to get off the train with him and spend the night in Vienna with him, exploring and getting to know one another.

Before Sunrise is all about these two, without a real supporting cast they are left to carry the script and do so amazingly. Where it lulls in dialogue – as normal conversations do – their body language takes over and shows just what a genuine bond these two are forming. There are no big themes or dramatic moves in the film, it’s all pretty simple, just like what would happen if two strangers met and decided to spend the day together. There’s ups and downs in dialogue, ranging from heavy discussions about God to simple observations like the beauty of the city, and this approach really made this romantic connection ever more real.

If anything, the film really pushes self-fulfilment and self-discovery on its audience. We see both characters reveal more of themselves as time passes, even with the two knowing that they’ll probably never see each other again. It’s this grounded realisation that makes the film so relatable. Even though they each have hopes of meeting again, there are no sweeping gestures suggesting they’re going to make it some long-distance relationship. It quits while it’s ahead and this secures the film as one of the realest romances I have seen.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have this instant connection on the screen. They make what we’re watching seem so real and unforced, it could almost be passed as improvisation. Their reactions, their ideas, their personalities; at no point do their characters seem contrived or typecast. Bouncing off each other’s energy, their friendship blossoms and it seems completely genuine. They have this social awkwardness with each other at the beginning but grow and connect in all sorts of ways as time passes,. When it comes to say goodbye though, the slight awkwardness returns as their hopes of meeting in the future seem quite empty and unrealistic which they realise, and perhaps they’re only saying this as a politeness between friends.

Before Sunrise is a simple love story that I’m sure, even though bittersweet, everyone has hopes of having. Leaving the film on a high, with our own decisions about whether they meet up again or not, is the best conclusion that could have been drawn. If you’re sick of the typical Hollywood love-fests that are continually churned out on the big screen and want to see a real romance with some very good actors, this is your film!

Star rating: 8/10

Directed by Richard Linklater.

Running time 101 minutes.

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