Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Movie Review: "Before Sunset" (2004)

It's one of those movies where I couldn't decide right away if I liked it or not until after I slept on it, then I realize that I experienced something memorable. I had the same reaction with Pulp Fiction, 2001: A Space oddysey and OldBoy. Now they're my favorite movies of all time.

Richard Linklater is at his best when he does Independent projects like Slacker and Dazed and Confused. I remember being a fan as long as way back in 95 when I saw D and C. It seemed like this guy was talking to me on a personal level through his films. They're so personal and sincere. The fact that they're independent productions show that artistic expression was the priority in making these films.Sunset is no different.

I first saw Before Sunrise on cable on a lazy afternoon. I was glued to the set listening to the conversations of main characters Jesse and Celine and was a witness to their fresh view of the world and the frustrations that came along with it from the time they met in a train to the last kiss and embrace before leaving Vienna promising to each other that they would meet again in 6 months. No letters. No phone.

Released through Warner Independent Pictures ( I didn't know that Warner had an independent outfit until I saw the opening credit) It immediately gives you the feeling that you are watching a small movie. It starts off with a montage of scenes from Paris and takes off with Ethan Hawke's Jesse in a Bookstore doing a press junket on his new book "This Time" which was "loosely" based on his romantic experience nine years ago with a French girl in Vienna. Things really start to turn up once we see Julie Delpy's Celine show up in the bookstore, one hour before Jesse's scheduled flight back to New York.
The whole movie is a good 80 minutes of pure engaging, intriguing and at times hilarious conversation. I like talkies like this and movies like Finding Forrester. They make you feel smarter after you watch them. The main difference between Before Sunset from its equally engaging prequel Before Sunrise is that we are brought in the middle of a conversation between two intelligent people trying to make sense of themselves and the world around them. A very familiar setting in colleges and office cafeterias. They make you want to jump in and join. They make you nod in aggreement, laugh out loud in empathy and cry inside in agreement.
Other than the dialogue, the ending was also subject to much deliberation and puzzlement. I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it. Its so fascinating that Linklater decided to leave us in such an open ended, enigmatic yet poignant part of the conversational adventure that we end up making the conclusion ourselves. Reactions in the theater ranged from bedazzled and dumbfounded to rowdy and obnoxious. I have to admit, I was caught in the idea of condemning this movie the second the credits started rolling. But this was where the movie finally got me. IT MADE ME THINK. Something that a movie hasn't done to me in a long time. I was contemplating the ending all the way out of the theater, out of the mall, inside the bus, walking down the street and in my bed as I lay down.

People who have seen the first film 9 years ago SHOULD see this. You know how young and stupid you were when you saw the first one and how only young people naive of the facts of the world like taxes,parenting and overpriced diapers can really enjoy it. This movie grew up with you and it still, with poetic flair, speaks your language.

Rocketboy's Rating: ***** (5 out of 5)


Blogger drei said...

tsk, too bad i haven't seen the first one. i'll try to look for it though before watching this one. ;)

7:10 PM

Anonymous Before Sunset Online said...

Great romantic story with great casting...the movie is made in two language french and English. The film is directed by Richard Linklater with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.

11:19 PM


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