Before Sunrise (1995)
Good Night Vienna
Uh... I'm gonna take your picture. So I never forget you or, uh, or all this - Jesse
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and when it comes to Richard Linklater's "Before Sunrise" my opinion differs to the majority. You see there is a lot of love for this movie with many people claiming it to be one of the most realistic love stories they have ever watched. But for me that is a case of mistaking something different for something real because "Before Sunrise" is different to your normal romantic drama as it follows two people who meet on a train and spend a few hours together. But then whilst meeting someone on a train maybe real what happens after, the spending time together, the things they discuss and so on is so unreal it borders on the pretentious.
Now in fairness "Before Sunrise" starts reasonably well as we meet Celine (Julie Delpy) on a train who tires of the arguing couple sitting next to her and moves to a vacant seat further back where she meets Jesse (Ethan Hawke). The way they smirk when the arguing couple walk past is real and so is the fact that they strike up a conversation even going for a drink in the lounge car. But then that is where the realism stops because what they talk about is not the sort of things you talk about with a stranger you have just met.
But that is just the start and when Jesse asks Celine to get off the train and spend a few hours with him in Vienna before he catches a flight back to America it is simply unbelievable. I'm sorry but people don't do that, they don't just go off walking around a foreign city with a stranger especially one who admits he has no hotel to stay in but just plans to walk around till the next day when his flight leaves.
Of course this is the start of a romance, a period of time where Celine and Jesse connect on such a deep level that we are to believe they are falling in love. But then what they talk about is again so unreal, so pretentious that none of it feels natural, in fact it feels very forced and unlikely. And when things move on between them it is just as unbelievable and not really real or romantic and to be honest is a bit dull, in fact a lot dull because all these deep philosophical conversations drag on to make "Before Sunrise" feel much longer than it is.
Now in fairness "Before Sunrise" is different to mainstream cinema and for that reason alone it is more interesting but it doesn't automatically make it good. It also doesn't automatically make it real either and to be blunt it feels very forced. From the subjects these two strangers talk about to the way they feel about each other it just doesn't ring true. And part of the reason it doesn't ring true is down to Ethan Hawke who as Jesse is too much of a cliche, a smug American with strong opinions and an inability to appreciate foreign life or language. It means that there is no believable chemistry when it comes to Jesse and Celine and whilst Julie Delpy does make Celine interesting and romantic you struggle to see why she would want to spend time with Jesse.
What this all boils down to is that "Before Sunrise" just didn't do it for me and found it both unrealistic and quite dull as well as pretentious. In fairness it is different to the norm and being different does make it that little bit more interesting, even challenging, but as for being real and romantic, nope it just doesn't work. If you want real and romantic watch the more recent "Once" which feels more like a slice of romantic life.
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