Before Sunrise (1995) – Richard Linklater

Following my screening of Boyhood, as recommended by DK Canada’s highly enjoyable The Movie Book, it’s now time to dive into the What Else to Watch titles that accompany it.

First up is Before Sunrise starring Linklater’s good friend, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy. Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) are two travellers who meets on a European train and feel an immediate connection.

As the train arrives in Vienna, they realise they only have one evening together (or at least at the time, there are currently two sequels to this film) . This fires up their emotions, and the blossoming romance and moments they share.

In context of the films that follow, it’s a snapshot of a moment, captured youth, and Hawke and Delpy are perfectly cast. They discuss their lives, things that influence them, and their connection blooms – they only have one night, so they have no holds-barred discussions, laying themselves out for mutual examination.

There is an informal feel to the feel, brought about by the casual, enjoyable way the leads bring their characters to life, their well-rehearsed lines and actions giving the film a improvised, natural feeling – as if we truly are seeing moments captured as they happen.

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Knowing they only have the one night, they are more open, more honest with one another than they would be had they been given more than a few few special hours together.

I love how it’s crafted and the two actors come together, revealing their characters to one another, and the audience, sharing beauty, emotions, memories, and common experiences that define us all.

It’s gently, lovingly paced, romantic film that encapsulates the moments of attraction, affection, and emotional connection (and honesty) in one night. Hawke is at ease on the screen, and Delpy is luminous and engaging.

I remember when this film first came out, and I was working my way through the video catalogue of the video store I was working in, and I wasn’t that impressed with it. I don’t know if that was because my own love life had been so barren up to that time and I had no real point of reference, or if I didn’t care for the genre – I mean it really is just a romantic character piece and that, for someone who was raised on science fiction, action and horror films, well that just wasn’t my thing.

Still, over time, this film has proven itself to me, and it was a true treat to be able to sit down and watch this one. The sequels are coming up shortly, but if you don’t want to watch those, pick up a copy of DK Books The Movie Book and find something else, something amazing, to watch tonight!

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