Wednesday, January 12, 2005



Before Sunset

Dir. Richard Linklater
80 min; Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy

"Memories are wonderful things, if you don't have to deal with the past. "

Before Sunset is a wonder. An hour and half jaunt through Paris with two people you know and love. Intelligent, but heartfelt; Films like this are a rarity these days. It's perhaps the smallest most intimate film on my list. It seems so real that afterwards it almost hurts to think about it.

When I heard that Richard Linklater had a new film coming out, I was ecstatic. Linklater is one of the best filmmakers working today. Last year I had his mainstream Jack Black-vehicle, School of Rock on my top ten list. The fact that another of his films has made my list this year, but with such a diffferent feel and genre is a testament to his excellence. While School of Rock made me laugh; Before Sunset made me laugh, cry, and love.

Before I went to see the film I knew that I had to see his 1995 film, Before Sunriset in which Ethan Hawke's Jessie and Julie Delpy's Celine meet on a train and on the spur of the moment decide to spend the night in Vienna together, seeing the sights and talking about life, before Jessie has to catch his plane back to America. The film ends with them agreeing that they will meet in Vienna in six months. The film was magical. The characters seemed so real. The kinds of things they talked about fascinating. The fact that I watched the film the night before going to see the second film meant that I was spared 10 years of wondering what happened to the two characters; Spared from agonizing over whether they actually ended up getting together or what.

Fortunately Linklater, Hawke and Delpy all decided that there was more to be said and they wanted to explore the characters more. The second film begins 10 year later. Jessie is in Paris on a tour for his book, detailing that magical night 10 years earlier. Who should he see standing in the back of the store but Celine. He arranges to spend the afternoon with her before catching his flight, and so we are ready to hear about what has happened to them in the meantime. Did they ever end up in Vienna that fateful Christmas? What will happen between them now? It's wonderful and painful. Full of realism and romance. And the ending of this one is perhaps the most perfect ending of the year.

It's rare to encounter a film like this one that is so real. I've only seen it once and yet I feel like Jessie and Celine are dear friends of mine and I care deeply about what happens to them. The acting and dialogue is so natural. It's astounding. They talk and act like real, intelligent people. I actually care about them.

I don't know what else to say about this film other than that you must see it. Here's hoping that in ten years Linklater, Hawke and Delpy will give us another shot at seeing what ever happened to our good friends.

Note on Top Ten lists: Top Ten lists are in many ways such an arbitrary thing. Due to the nature of such a thing, I'm forced to order these things. I just wanted to say that my top six films on this list are all such great films that I love them all. I also realized that merely doing a Top Ten wasn't enough, so after the Top Ten I'm going to have a couple of special jury prizes. So there's still more to look forward to.


At 1:09 p.m., Blogger Ryan said...

I kinda feel guilty that I haven't seen this one yet, as I would consider Linklater my favorite director…or at least one of my top 3. I always wanted to get Before Sunrise, but never got around to it(mostly cause I rarely rented non-blockbuster stock movies ha ha)

I'm most definitely gunna rent this

At 1:24 p.m., Blogger Anders said...

Yes, you've gotta watch them Ryan. If you love Linklater, these are easily his best two films. Actually, I was thinking of buying them. Let me know when you want to watch them, and maybe you, me, Anton and Ewan can get together and watch 'em or something.

At 3:58 a.m., Blogger Luke said...

I couln't have said it better myself, but i'll have to try when it comes up on my top 10. In my mind it dosn't get much better than a linklater film. His ability to make a film seem so real(which is a breath of fresh air when you watch the insane amount of films that people like ourselves are acustomed to), and his genious dialoge hook me in every time.
If you haven't seen "Tape" yet i highly recommend it. the whole film takes place in a hotel room, and it has an intensity thats rivals anything "Phonebooth" gave us.

At 10:47 a.m., Blogger Anders said...

Shouldn't be that hard since Phone Booth sucked so much ass.

But, yeah, I think that and The Newton Boys are the only two Linklater films I've not seen.

At 10:58 a.m., Blogger Luke said...

The Newton boys was fun, but it lacked. Matthew McConaughey was it's saving grace, but i don't chalk it's failure up to Linklater. Yeah Phone booth was rather disagreeable, i geuss a better commparison would be Treed Murray

At 2:10 p.m., Blogger Ewan said...

Oh come one, Phonebooth was aight. My man Colin made it good.

At 8:01 p.m., Blogger Luke said...

Like all things Phonebooth had it's good points, but what brings it down to a lower level of cinema is it's subject matter. The whole high concept Terrorism thing is not only old and tired(thanks CNN) but just sick. Why prey apon a nations fear like that? Why add to aother log onto a burning pile of fear. While phonebooth is not the most guilty film of this crime, it's as i said before it's major flaw. A film like Treed Muarry did it right. It takes place in a small claustraphobic enviroment(up a tree), but it has a much wider scope. It has a more human touch. We find out our hero who has been chased up the tree isn't as innocent as he looks( the things he resorts to, to try and get out of the tree).On the other side of coin we find out his attackers are not as one dimensional as they first appear to be. They end up having a breakfast club moment at the end, but it's still a far supiror film, with a much wider emotional intensity. And if i haven't said enough good things about it, it's canadian.


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