Having seen both Richard Linklater's Waking Life and Dazed and Confused, I was extremely glad to discover that Before Sunrise is more akin to the former. The plot is simple, two strangers, Jesse and Celine, meet on a train, become infatuated, and spend a romantic night together in Vienna. However, the beauty of this film is not in plot, character, or aesthetics, but rather in its universality. I'll try to explain.
The film is wonderfully structured: it begins when the characters meet, and ends when they part. We know nothing of their lives or their worlds outside of their relationship with one another. Thus we are experiencing the events that occur in the film exactly as the characters are. Similarly to how I felt about Waking Life, Linklater and his co-writer Kim Krizan create characters that eloquently articulate things that everyone has thought about, but has not really known how to put into words. This is where I come back to the concept of universality. Whereas Waking Life demonstrates the universality of thought, Before Sunrise demonstrates the universality of love. Everyone who has felt love can't not relate to Celine and Jesse or the situation at hand.
So apart from what the poster to the right might hint at, Before Sunrise is not a standard-cheesy romance film like The Notebook or Amelie or Casablanca. Even though it is about a girl who gets off a train in a foreign city with a total stranger to spend a night with him (and ends up falling hopelessly in love in the course of a few hours,) it feels entirely real. Their emotions and conversations are incredibly human and relatable. And despite Ethan Hawke's weasel-y and obnoxious disposition, you end up falling in love with him just like Celine.
But I warn you, don't watch this movie if you're feeling lonely, because you'll get really jealous of the characters and end up just feeling worse. Apart from that though, this is definitely a movie worth seeing. Oh and also. There's a sequel. Which will be making an appearance on this blog very soon.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars