Movie Review #638
Studio: Castle Rock Entertainment, a Turner Company – Detour Filmproduction – F.I.L.M.H.A.U.S., Wien – Sunrise Production – Columbia Pictures Corporation
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Country: USA – Austria – Switzerland
Spoken Languages: English – German – French
Directed by Richard Linklater. Produced by Anne Walker-McBay. Written by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan.
Rated R by the MPAA, for some strong language. Runs 1 hour, 41 minutes. Wide release in the USA on January 27, 1995; and in Switzerland (French and German speaking regions) on March 31, 1995.
Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
“Before Sunrise” opens with the genius of director Richard Linklater. Few films open in a foreign language, unless they are foreignly produced, but Richard Linklater doesn’t see the German language as foreign. He sees it as art, perhaps as an illustration. We’re brought to a train whose serenity is broken only by the noise of two older lovers arguing. Céline, 23, changes seats to sit across from Jesse, also 23. Who knows whether they’ll be bickering later on in life, but it’s love at first sight; we can be sure they’ll grow old together.
Such is to be said even without acknowledging the second and third pieces in Linklater’s triptych. These two are madly in love with each other. Though the film is not entire without the two following works. It’s great to know that Richard Linklater had this planned out ahead of time. I’m going off an assumption here, but it’s a confident assumption. In retrospect, he’s foreshadowed all the way through the end of the third film. We end knowing that Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) will never see each other again, but if they really love each other, they’ll have found some way to work it out. (That’s not really spoiling much, to be sure.)
“Before Sunrise” is a movieful of conversation. The basics of it is, Céline and Jesse chat about themselves and each other as they mozy around Vienna, something they didn’t expect would happen in the first place. It feels more and more a hundred-minute attempt to develop character, but that it does well, and it keeps our undivided attention. The whole time.
The movie is marked by great (if low-key) cinematography, great acting, and (how many times can I say it?) great directing. But when it comes down to the essence of “Before Sunrise”, this is a movie about two twentysomethings. Not only are they crazy for each other, we’re crazy for them. Their personalities are accentuated a bit. We pick up on Jesse’s naïveté, and Céline’s feminism (something she seems to hate about herself), but at the end of the day, ils sont simplement humains.