Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Before Sunrise

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Reviews - Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise

Reviewed By Darren Horne

Darren reviews Before Sunrise and Before Sunset

Before Sunrise is one of those films you stumble across by accident, and it this unexpected confrontation with excellence that causes the audience to experience that shakabookoo moment; that Swift Spiritual Kick to the Head That Alters Your Reality Forever. Before Sunset is life, it is experience. Anyone that has ever met someone they “kind of like” and wanted to find out more about them will know what this film is about. This is missed opportunity, this is chance, this is the roll of the dice and the one that got away. In this film a guy meets a girl on a train, they talk about nonsense as is the norm, but instead of saying goodbye and obsessing about what might have been the guy takes the leap of faith and convinces the girl to spend the next 14 hours exploring Vienna with him.

Already we see perfection; already this movie is a masterpiece. Is it Ethan Hawke’s scruffy American backpacker Jesse that reels us in, or the sexy Celine played by Julie Delpy? I say “played by” but there is no “play” in this film, there is no performance or representation. In this film the actors achieve such a level that this is nothing other than the “real”, the dialogue is of a couple exploring one another, the action is the terrified adolescent that hides in every adult, terrified of saying the wrong thing that may cause a loved one to disappear out of their life forever.

The beauty of this enchanting film is how the actors communicate what is often unsaid, suggesting that they are about to say something, or make a joke, but think better of it. Vulnerable glances are exchanged; tentative gestures of affection are made. This is the truest representation of a couple meeting, and through conversation realising that they have met their soul mate, ever committed to film.

It is heartbreaking to watch the impetuousness of youth dictate that the exchanging of phone numbers is a waste of time, for in youth we wrongly feel that their will be many that we connect with on such a spiritual level. The final moments of the film leave the audience perplexed, with an overwhelming desire to KNOW what happens next.

It is a stroke of luck to come across this film after the sequel has been released, for to wait the nine years for Before Sunset to be released would be an exquisite form of torture.
In the sequel we see the couple bump onto each other once more, and quite rightly we soon see that both carry scars from their original encounter. The memories of that one perfect night have been encased in crystal and romanticised, so that no future encounter would ever live up to that experience. There is but one option for these playthings of Cupid, they have to explore a complete relationship with one another.

As each scene unfolds we look to our watch, counting down the time in which these obvious soul mates have to discover they are made for one another. Early on we feel safe, they are re-acquainting themselves with what once was, playing poker for lovers, in which cards are held close to their chest. But this cannot be maintained, and it is in Jesses company limo that we are truly dragged back into the narrative, fully committed to their relationship when Celine breaks down, screaming about the repercussions that evening had for her; when you have experienced that true connection with another person, everything else is dull in comparison.

Again we check our watch, what will happen? Can we endure another departure as in Before Sunrise? The characters are now more mature and world weary; life is taking its toll. Now in their thirties they have an appreciation for each other that was lost in Venice. They have seen more of the world and realised no comparison can be made to that one night they shared together. Priorities are quickly re-arranged. What is life for? What is important? The sequel is snatched moments, fighting against a clock that continuously haunts them. Sometimes we scream for them to be truly honest with each other, to throw off their responsibilities and engulf themselves in their love, other times we fear that their lives will pull them apart, locked into an existence of wondering what could have been.

The ending of Before Sunset is perfection, and should be held up as a pinnacle of film making. A scene that is so unexpected and yet so correct, that if your reaction is a cheer, a tear or a jeer, you will know in your heart that it was right, and sit looking at the screen analysing and exploring all of the “what ifs?” that the characters will now face.

The true charm of the film is not what the characters are experiencing, but the level to which every viewer will project their own life onto the screen, contemplating whether they are with the right partner, or whether at some point in the past they should have spoke up, or allowed time for that special someone.

The universal response on viewing this film will be a deep down, soul aching desire to watch yet another sequel in another nine years time. Any film that can haunt its audience in this way is deserving of its title of Masterpiece.

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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