By Jess Lomas
June 5, 2013
Play It Again is a weekly feature in which our classic-film connoisseurs revisit a revered motion picture from the annals of movie history, to see if it holds up… or if it has aged terribly. And yes, it takes its name from a famously misquoted Casablanca line (hey, whatever; it fits!).
Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood romance; the meet cute, the attractive leads, and the relationship the audience will barrack for against all odds. But the thing that makes this stand apart from the Katherine Heigl movies of the world is intelligence, and plenty of it.
Whether it’s fate or coincidence that bring the American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and the French Celine (Julie Delpy) together on a train leaving Budapest, once they strike up a conversation, each discovers this new relationship is something they don’t want to let go of straight away. As the train pulls in to Jesse’s stop, he proposes the pair spend the day together in Vienna, seeing the sights and continuing getting to know each other. It’s an offer Celine can’t refuse.
What transpires is a natural development of a friendship that hints at becoming more. There are no clichéd rom-com montages set to upbeat pop songs; instead, each offers memories and philosophical musings. With the clock ticking and Jesse’s departure for home nearing, there’s at once a sense of urgency in what we see and a drawn out exploration of the minimalist nature of a blossoming romance; the glances, the longing, the body language, a meeting that is free of expectations. Jesse and Celine can be open with one another in a way often impossible in everyday life.
Part of the picture’s charm and magic is how realistic to life it is, and yet it isn’t. What are the chances that you would share such intimate thoughts with someone you met only hours ago? It is a beautiful and raw fairytale, one that many a single traveller would daydream being a part of. Like Cinderella’s midnight curfew, Jesse’s departure prompts the couple to decide whether to leave each other as a perfect memory, or tempt fate and meet again in six months.
Before Sunrise, written by Linklater and Kim Krizan, gives us a hopeful representation of fresh love, devoid of glitter, and champions the lost art of conversation, reminding us of the rewards for taking chances.
Before Sunrise is available on Quickflix.