June 13th, 2007
Directed by Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly).
Attractive 20-somethings, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, meet on a train. They get off together in Vienna and walk around and talk all night, and then agree to meet again in the future. Some years later they meet in Paris and walk around and talk some more.
Boy do they talk!
I liked these movies. It took me about half an hour to commit to the first one, Before Sunrise, because I couldn’t stop squirming at Hawke’s callow pontificating.
What a dope! Shut up! You’ll never get that great girl by talking all that nonsense!
He reminded me too much of myself at his age. I never really stopped squirming, but I decided it was worth it.
I think these movies work as a double bill, which is the way I watched them, although that is a powerful lot of talking you are going to have to attend to. I almost switched to another romance for the second half, perhaps 1957’s An Affair to Remember, whose characters also agree to meet again in the future; but in the end I did the double bill. I think I might not ever have returned to the sequel if I hadn’t watched them both at once, and I’m glad I did.
Ethan Hawke is no Cary Grant, but he’s as good as we can do nowadays. Recommended. I don’t see how you can think you know anything about young love and modern romance if you haven’t seen these movies.
Updated June 16, 2007: I just watched ‘An Affair to Remember.’ I’ve posted a review here. (I also watched ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ at the same time.) Now that I’ve seen ‘Affair,’ it seems to me that ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Before Sunset’ exist entirely in awareness of the earlier movie, and provide a contemporary commentary on its notions of romantic love, star-crossed lovers, and love at first sight. I don’t recall any obvious Empire State Building references (unlike ‘Sleepless,’ which is packed with them), but I did notice one conscious homage in ‘Before Sunset.’ It occurs when Hawke’s character (who did show up for the planned rendezvous) pretends that he didn’t, just like Cary Grant’s character. But Julie Delpy doesn’t have as good an excuse for not showing up as Deborah Kerr did. So much for modern romance!