Updated: Jul 7
Love is an odd idea. It's tough to put into words, especially the romantic type. What exactly is this love? Affection? Caring for someone, requiring and desiring their presence? Before Linklater and his 1995 famous film, several directors attempted to capture the sentiment.
But it's the dialogues about love that set Before Sunrise different from the crowd.
Before Sunrise is fundamentally a tale about hope.
As humans, we have a love-hate relationship with love.
We despise it.
We mock it, but we also desperately crave it.
Before Sunrise deftly blends wide-eyed idealism with life experiences resignation.
The film's brilliance is that it cherishes and laments its moments simultaneously.
Because Jesse and Celine's short hours together are constrained by a self-imposed constraint – he has a plane to catch in the morning – their words are both brimming with joyful anticipation and solemnly metered with great care.
It's like seeing a charming first date that also happens to be taking place on the dying bed of a lifetime husband.
There is no better spark than finding someone who genuinely gets you - someone who can read between the lines without having to read between the lines.
Finding the individual who bridges the gap between your thoughts and their interpretation is just a true miracle.
On a train in Austria, they meet-cute. They begin to converse. There is a confluence of brains, and they enjoy each other. They are in their early twenties.
He's an American on his way to Vienna with a Eurail pass to catch a cheap ticket home.
She's French, a Sorbonne student on her way back to Paris.
They proceed to the buffet car, drink some coffee, speak some more, and he has this insane idea: why doesn't she get off the train with him in Vienna, and they can stay together till he catches his flight?
In this film, there is no hidden objective. There will be no broken promises, melodrama, make-believe violence, or snazzy choreography in sex scenes. It's primarily conversation as they explore the streets of Vienna from mid-afternoon till daybreak the next day.
Nobody bothers them.
Ethan Hawke plays Jesse, an American, on his way to Vienna via train.
He meets Celine played by Julie Delpy, a French graduate student, on her way to Paris.
They are both in their twenties.
He informs her about his proposal for a cable channel that will show 365 days of 24-hour documentaries about people's real lives in various locations across the world.
She recalls a visit with her grandma.
Then Jesse recalls having a magical vision of his deceased grandma as a youngster.
Celine accepts when he begs her to get off the train with him in Vienna.
Director Richard Linklater explores how two people may reach out to one other and express themselves via talk in this enthralling and well-realized picture. This is the most cutesy film that heralds a trend of more intriguing interaction between men and women on the big screen.
Unlike Celine, who appreciates the romance of encounters with a palm reader and a street poet, Jesse is skeptical about them.
However, it is his advice that they focus all of their efforts on the rest of the evening so that they may remember and enjoy it as a one-of-a-kind event that they will remember and cherish.
Their desire to be together is evident in the brightness of the early light, but they part ways.
Linklater concludes the film with a beautiful montage of the spots in the city where they remained and bared their souls, which appear to have transformed as a result of their presence.
And we know that Jesse and Celine's one beautiful evening in Vienna will be a memento they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Delpy and Hawke are, in many respects, presenting two parts of one performance, so entwined are their roles to the film's success.
It's not so much an issue of chemistry as it is of teamwork.
Yes, Delpy and Hawke play unique characters.
Still, they're also working together to cultivate a single imaginary romance, from its early carelessness to its stretch of discomfort to its full-fledged infatuation to its brutal, unexpected disintegration.
Every step of the way, the two actors are in sync.
Before Sunrise is a bittersweet experience.
Sweet because the film depicts the early stages of a romance when you want to reach out to that person at all times.
Spending time together talking, playing goofy, listening, and keeping a close eye on each other.
The first hints of something resembling a possible relationship begin to emerge.
And you hope while knowing how it will end.
That's where the resentment lies.
The connection between these two characters, which is palpable from the minute they meet, sets the stage for a spectacular experience that elevates Before Sunrise to the ranks of the best romantic movies of all time.