Sunday, September 13, 2009

Before Sunrise (1995) [R] ****

Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) are in their early twenties, traveling west across Europe on a train. Celine is French; she's returning home to Paris from a visit with her grandmother in Budapest. Jesse's an American; he flew to Madrid to be with his girlfriend, but she dumped him, so he's been bumming around Europe. Now he's heading to Vienna where his flight to America leaves in the morning. They start talking the way strangers do - about life and death, dreams and aspirations, their relationships with their parents.

Soon, the train arrives in Vienna. Jesse invites Celine to get off, and spend the hours until his flight leaves with him. He suggests that they should get to know one another, so years later when Celine is bored with her husband, she won't look back and wonder if Jesse was the one she should have married. Celine is willing, so they get off together, and begin their tour of Vienna. They talk about sexual awakening, about past loves, about breaking up with someone, and being dumped. They talk about how men feel about women, and how women feel about men; about how their parents related to each other, whether they stayed together or divorced, and why? And as they talk, each one begins to form an opinion about the other. Celine wonders if it's true that everything we do in life is to be loved a bit more. Being European, she has integrated love and sex, so when she puts her arms around Jesse's neck, draws him to her and softly kisses him, there's the feeling that while they're the same age, Celine is much older, wiser and more mature.

What happens to Jesse and Celine? Do they fall in love? Do they make love? Do they promise to stay in contact? Do they plan a reunion? It's a great story and it will take you back to your own twenties, when you were young and vibrant and life was full of possibilities. And, yes, they made a sequel, nine years later, titled Before Sunset.  

Labels: drama, romance     
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 77/100
Tomatometer (critics=100, viewers=93)