Before Sunrise (directed by Richard Linklater) is a marvellous look at the beauty of human relationships. The movie follows two strangers (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) who meet on a train, get off together at Vienna, and spent just a day with each other.
Is it possible to fall in love in such a short span of time, with a stranger you've just spent a few hours with? This is one love story completely unlike any other, mostly dialogue-based, but therein lies the simplistic beauty of the film. I loved it so much because of its lack of pretension. The realism is stunning- it's hard to come across a movie where I can actually identify with the characters, but here, I did. I saw traces of myself in them. There are observations about life, love, romance- and many other things, that I personally related to.
Certain scenes like the walk by the river and the river-side poet's recital of his spontaneously written verse, the hand-reading session, and of course- the first kiss- those are scenes that left me feeling deliciously warm.
The ending is a little reminiscent of An Affair To Remember- captivating and romantic, but not in your usual "happily ever after" way. Watch this movie not because it's a love story, but because it's a masterpiece, a sheer achievement in cinema that's simple yet stunning- a movie that pulls at your heartstrings just because you can feel it's real. With wonderful acting and excellent script, Before Sunrise is one of those meaningful romances you don't easily forget, because it ends with a promise.
Before Sunset, by the same director, catches up with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy almost nine years later, in Paris, to follow up on that same promise. They're older, of course, but more importantly, they're jaded- about life, and about relationships. While Before Sunrise is about falling in love, Before Sunset explores the cynicism and the heartbreak associated with it. But that's not to say, in any way, that it's a dark movie. On the contrary, it's beautiful, and subtly challenging. There's an interplay of very powerful emotions, and an exploration of the fragility and strength of human bonds. There's a sense of having bottled up years of frustration and countless moments of thinking "What if...", and I found myself waiting for the eventual spill- the inevitable explosion of emotion.
You can tell that Jessie and Celine have grown up- they have made their share of mistakes, they have experienced unhappiness and the pang of unfulfilled love, but somehow, somewhere- lives the hope that love and passion may be reborn again. It's a wonderfully poignant sequel, and the chemistry between the actors is as good as ever, if not better. Also, Hawke and Delpy do a brilliant job of portraying two people who have not been able to truly move on, after spending just one night together.
The ending is... in a word - moving. It left me thinking. It's honest, and it's real. Special mention must be made of Delpy's song- it's beautifully written, full of meaning, and very moving.
And what is perhaps most beautiful, is the fundamental optimism, the faith- that perhaps, at the end of the day, two lovers can be reunited, and that true love can overcome all obstacles.