Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Short Cut Movie Review from My Collection: Before Sunrise

Short Cut Movie Review is normally less than 400 words, but in some cases may go slightly over. This is my attempt to keep writing about as many films as I see without getting bogged down with trying to find more to say. They are meant to be brief snapshots of my reaction to a movie without too much depth.

I originally missed the big brouhaha over Before Sunrise in 1995. I was in high school and many of my friends went nuts for it. It barely interested me then, perhaps specifically because so many of my friends were so gaga. I’ve always tended to reject, sight unseen, anything that generates such feverish fandom. Then over the years it slowly cemented its place in the cultural pantheon of independent film. Then Richard Linklater made a sequel and I decided it was finally time to take a look at it.


I remember liking it, but not loving it. I did, however, love Before Sunset when I saw it shortly thereafter. Now the third chapter is in release so I took a fresh look at each of the two (out of order). Your reaction to a story can change drastically as you grow older. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote about how Fellini’s 8 ½  changed with each decade he aged. This is because the characters in the story remain the same age while we grow up, learn, and mature.

When Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as the young lovers Jesse and Celine were about 23 years old, their views on the world, relationships, politics were romantic and idealistic, not yet tarred by the cynicism that comes with age. I was just about their age when I first spent an evening with them while they wandered the streets of Venice falling in love during the one night they have together. They speak smartly, honestly, and with great versatility on a variety of topics. They are people with opinions and with depth of knowledge to actually imbue those opinions with weight even if their life experiences have not yet informed them thoroughly. That’s the newest observation I have to make about their conversations after watching them at age 35. Their opinions no longer speak to me. I respect them, but I chuckle as I listen because not only do I know how their characters will change somewhat by the time Before Sunset is written, but I also know that their romantic ideals don’t continue to hold true by the time you arrive at your mid-30s.

Linklater’s screenplay, co-written by Kim Krizan, is intelligent and at times beautiful. I’m not sure he had any inkling that he would ever revisit this story or these characters, but he did – twice! What was at one time a great little one-off indie experiment has now become a grand film experiment. If Before Sunrise wasn’t exactly essential viewing before, it now is.

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