andythesaint (andythesaint) wrote in topfive_reviews,
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Movie Review: Before Sunrise (1995)

I tried as hard as I could, but in the end, there was no way to write this review without sounding like a woman

Before Sunrise (1995)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

Directed by: Richard Linklater

For the longest time, I felt this movie was unreviewable for me, since it was too personally resonant for me to apply any real critical analysis toward it. But, since I'm now an entirely different person than I was when I first saw the movie (back when it meant more to me than just a movie), I think I can now be a bit more objective toward it.


Or, as objective as one can be when watching one of their all-time favourite movies. Which, I guess, is not very, but at least I'll be gushing about what is actually on screen, and not projecting my love life onto it. The movie is the story of an American boy Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French girl Celine (Julie Delpy) who meet aboard a train and decide to spend the night getting to know one another in Vienna.


That's pretty much the whole story. The movie is two people who just met getting to know one another for one night before they go their separate ways. Essentially, it's a one and half hour conversation examining the perspectives of a young man and a young woman on various topics such as life, work, love, sex, relationships, and gender politics. And if that doesn't sound like your thing, you're probably wise to not watch this movie (if you could track it down in the first place).


However, I don't want to give the impression that the movie is dull, because it's not, if you're into that sort of thing. The chemistry between the two stars is perfect, and the words and moments and moments between the words are as fantastic as they are revelatory. The dialogue is fresh and interesting, and the opinions and feelings expressed ring so true that there are moments while watching the film that you'll swear the writers (director Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan) ripped them from your head.


Which makes Before Sunrise one of the most personal movies I've ever seen. The film feels like a personal discovery, a discovery that many who have embraced it end up championing. The characters feel very real, becoming living, breathing creatures in a very short amount of time. It's very easy to identify with Jesse and Celine, and even easier to believe that you're watching two strangers fall in love. The movie is about as good an examination of the courtship rituals of young men and women, and is as poignant and timeless now as when it was released in 1995 (other than the fact that Hawke's Jesse at times seems to be a reprisal of his Reality Bites character Troy after he breaks up with Wynonna Rider and has had time on the train to become less of an ass). If you're a fan of cerebral, conversational romances, and have yet to see this movie, then find it and watch it (then watch its sequel, Before Sunset).


4.5/5

Tags: ethan_hawke, julie_delpy, movies, richard_linklater
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