Friday, December 23, 2005

Before Sunrise/Before Sunset

This pair of movies needs to be rented/bought/watched as close to being back to back as you can. (Neither is very long, so watching both won't be a big time sink) Watch Before Sunrise first. This pair of movies come highly recommended.

The first thing that strikes me about the movies is the question, how can movies that are essentially 2 people walking and talking work at all? But when you're done watching the movie, you realize that many of the most intense moments of your life have been just the two of you, walking or talking (or maybe in my case, cycling and talking), so maybe that question should never have come up in the first place.

Before Sunrise deals with the moment of the chance encounter --- the accidental meeting of someone, making a connection, and then taking a risk and getting to know them. Jesse & Celine meet on a train, and Jesse persuades Celine to make an unplanned stop with him in Vienna to keep him company in the afternoon and evening before he has to catch a plane. The two get to know each other, and what starts out as a chance encounter turns into something magical.

What strikes me about both movies is that they are hyper-real. Before Sunset is shot almost entirely in real time, with no skipped moments. There are moments in my life when I've felt every moment in complete intensity (I remember an interview when I was 16 with a board of 6 or 7 people who were to determine whether I would get a scholarship), and the movies reflect those moments fluidly. I remember the arm wrapping move as Julie Depry puts her arms around Ethan Hawke vividly in Before Sunrise, and there's a moment in the van when she reaches out to touch him but draws back as he turns to look at her --- those moments in the film are so real that they remind me of certain moments in my life, no doubt as the principals intended.

Before Sunset is about the "what if". What if you had made choices differently? What if when you were young and stupid you would have been just a little less stupid? By aging the actors naturally (9 years pass between the first and second movies) there is no contrivance at all in the changes over the years. I especially enjoyed the expression one of the characters made in saying, essentially, "When I was young I had so many choices I threw them away without realizing the preciousness of what I had thrown away." Yet the movies aren't full of regrets, and each movie ends with a question mark.

OK, I've worked very hard not to spoil the movies for you. Go watch it, and don't read any other reviews before watching them. Watch the movies with your significant other, if you have one. It will provide good conversation.
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