Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Before Sunrise

I saw this Richard Linklater directed movie this weekend on DVD. The reason to see this movie came about after I read an excellent review by Lotus Reads of the movie “Before Sunset”, which was also by the same director and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. “Before Sunset” in a nutshell was about two people who met as strangers on a train and spend a magical day in Vienna, at the end of which they promise to meet in six months of that day. They don’t manage to make it and move on with their lives, carrying with each other the imprint of that day that they can never forget. They meet again almost nine years after that day, this time in Paris and under different circumstances. Watching this amazing movie made me want to see “Before Sunrise” which is about that wondrous evening in Vienna.

I finally did manage to watch this movie on the weekend and it was a great experience. Although you must have gotten a sense about what the movie is about, here is the plot in brief below.

Jesse is a young American recently broken up with his girlfriend who he was visiting in Madrid, with little money but with lot of time to spare he is traveling around Europe and is on a train to Vienna for a flight home. Celine is a French student on her way to Paris on the same train. After a few minutes spent breaking the ice on an impulse Jesse asks Celine to spend the day with him in Vienna as his plane only leaves the next morning. She agrees and they spend the next 24 hours walking around the lovely city of Vienna.

Jesse and Celine have something that some of us have experienced. It is that almost instant chemistry and a sense of connectedness that you at first only sense and that grows as you interact with and spend more time with that person. I think to capture this on screen is a very hard task to do, not just for the director but also for the screenwriter and the principal actors. How does one convey this growing admiration and attraction for each other? Richard Linklater, the director and screenwriter succeeds at this in two ways, one is the amazing, inspired witty dialogue that just completely draws you in to the movie and does not let go till the movie ends.

The other is with the body language that we see between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as they so convincingly portray the characters they are playing and you completely forget they are mere actors.

You truly have to see this movie to understand how well this works. I am going to try and capture this for you through a few scenes that stayed with me long after the movie ended.

There is this scene in a record store. Jesse and Celine are listening to Kath Bloom's "Come Here". It is one of those listening booths I have never seen, almost like a telephone booth. It is this enclosed space and if you already have this chemistry that you sense is developing with the other person, what would an enclosed space with great music do to you? So it is amazing as you watch them making quick eye contact and then looking away. We can feel the mutual attraction they have as well as their excitement and the slight awkwardness of these moments.

There are other more subtle scenes, the way they play with the salt/pepper shakers on their table in the dining car as they talk to each other, and they are both very good actors, especially in this movie.

They kiss atop a giant Ferris wheel overlooking a dusky Vienna. This moment is quite romantic and we can sense the beauty and the intrigue of it all, akin to the lovely city of Vienna where this happens.

There is an understated, relaxed, unhurried and beautiful pace to this movie including some great lines. Not to spoil it for those of you who may actually want to watch this movie. But I liked these lines because of the deeper (call it philosophical if you will) underpinnings behind the words.

Jesse talks about never having been anywhere, where he hasn’t been before. Like how he has never felt a kiss that he has not been a part of. I think he is referring to doing things with his all poured in to it, sort of like wearing your heart on your sleeve or something. He also talks about perhaps people hating themselves because they are always around.

Celine talks about dying and how the few seconds of consciousness when you know you are going to die are the ones that scare her the most. This conversation comes out of her fear of flying.

The line in the movie that I completely loved, happens when Celine talks about the manifestation of god. She thinks it happens in the spaces between people.

Jesse talking about dealing with the fact that his father did not want him to be born. He says it feels like he is at a party where he is not supposed to be at but he is crashing anyway and making the most of it.

As Jesse and Celine are walking around Vienna along the banks of the Danube. They encounter a rather shabbily dressed guy who offers to write a poem for them, if they give him a word. After some discussion they come up with the word "milkshakes". They wait for a few minutes and the guy comes up with the poem "delusion angel". Here is a link to the poem if anyone wants to read it. This reminded me of the Friday poetry word that some of us take part in or enjoy reading.

There is also a lovely rendition of a part of the W.H. Auden poem by Jesse towards the end of the movie as they know they are about to go their own ways.

There are many more great moments in the movie but this one was also touching. They have this game at a café where Jesse and Celine both pretend like they are making phone calls to imaginary friends at home and telling them about the other. As they go through this we can see how they admit the depth of their feelings about each other.

From wikipedia what I also found out was that he plot of the movie was conceived by the director Richard Linklater, who shared a similar experience with a woman named Amy when they spent a whole night talking as they roamed the streets of Philadelphia.

Ok I have rambled long enough, this movie is highly recommended but that is just the opinion of some guy with a blog so make what you will of that. It is a funny, romantic, touching and a poignant movie. It reminds me of why we fall in love and that the process never really ends.


Asha said...

Thank you Sanjay!:))Sounds good.Food and films making Sanjay human like us mere mortals!!;D

Hope you had a good long break.

Aditi said...

sounds like something i would have loved yet no more.. mayb i am too jaded...those momnts no longr feel real

ML said...

What a great review! Between you and Lotus, this is a MUST see movie for me.

Sanjay, you have a way of expressing yourself in such an absolute true and meaningful way. I enjoy your expression.

Mr. J said...

Movies...damn movies...

I've been on trains and flights and not once was I lucky to stumble upon an encounter like this.. leave alone spending a whole day. Now i'm depressed

Lotus Reads said...

Darn it, Sanjay, why did I have to go and watch "Before Sunset" before watching "Before Sunrise"? lol

Anyway, even if means working backwards, I am going to grab a copy of "Before Sunrise"...your wonderful review has convinced me it needs to be done and in any case, I can never get enough of Richard Linklater, he's just brilliant!

And oh, I went to the link and read the poem "Delusion Angel", it's beautiful...I loved it!

Will probably have a lot more to say after I see the movie, so watch this space! :)

meno said...

I love reading your reviews! I will be adding both the before and after movies to my netflix list.

Nadim said...

I am going to buy those 2 dvds today! thanks! grt review!

Fuzzylogic said...

I love this movie!and you summed it really well at the end of your review.One of the definite MUST see for sure.

Carrie said...

It kinda reminds me of "something like love". Where they meet and go away and meet again. I watched two movies last week and they were okay but nothing to write about.

Id it is said...

Beautifully filmed and rendered, no doubt. However, one comes out of it saying "only in movies'. Obviously those are the 'loved and lost' and are convinced it's better 'never to have loved at all". Then there are those of us who are the die hard romantics who come out it recharged to either take on yet another of Cupid's arrows, or else revel in whatever Aphrodite doled out to them. hehe

Sanjay said...

lol@Asha.. I am glad to be included amongst mortals. I am doing something that keeps me away from computers for most of the day. But am trying to catch up otherwise and it is not as easy. :)

@Aditi. Perhaps you may be right but as a movie may be worth a look no? :) And one never knows what life has in store.

@Ml. Thank you for your kind words. The movie is also not too long it's worth watching me thinks.

@Mr. J.. Hey don't despair yet, you are so young too, you can't be jaded. And remember next time you feel like it just strike up a conversation. I mean it cannot hurt can it? :)

Sai said...

Nice Review....I will definitely try and see this movie.

Sanjay said...

@Lotus. lol. I asked myself the same question because that is the order I followed as well.

I am glad you are going to watch "before sunrise", I look forward to your take on it once you are done.

I loved delusion angel as well, I felt joy at those beautiful words, and then don't miss Ethan Hawke speaking a few lines of the WH Auden poem too in the movie.

Thank you for your kind comments.

Sanjay said...

@Meno.. Thanks you won't be disappointed me thinks. :)

@Nadim. Thanks

@Fuzzylogic.. Thanks :)

@Carrie. I have to check out something like love. I am not sure I know about it, thank you for telling me about it.

@Id it is..I have to say you captured it all very well with your words too. Thanks.

@Sai.. Thanks. I think you will enjoy the movie. :)

Lucia said...

I'll take your recommendation. Sounds great!

deepsat said...

Thanks for a great review sanjay!! i am gonna add that to my to watch list!!

SS said...

Really liked what you had to say.
The movie is one which I liked immensely .. haven't seen the sequel yet though. Will do now.

Sugarlips said...

I loved both movies "Before Sunset" and "Before Sunrise" and your reviw is great.

Stay Beautiful...!

Anali said...

I love both of these movies!! They are classics. And I have to believe that there is a third that will come out eventually. It seems to me like it should be a trilogy. I'll probably end up buying these movies, because I don't think seeing them once is enough.