"I like to feel his eyes on me when I look away."
Before Sunrise is a brilliant film about a young man and a young woman who meet in a train and spend an entire night together sharing their views on life while they walk around the streets of Vienna. It might seem like a pretty simple film, but Richard Linklater managed to create a unique and special relationship between these two characters thanks to a great script and an incredible chemistry between the two lead performers. Linklater co-wrote the script with Kim Krizan and every single dialogue in this film felt completely real and authentic. This is a very special movie that might seem simplistic but is really complicated because it's difficult to maintain the audience's attention in a film where two characters are speaking to each other without anything actually happening. The real climax and suspense in this film is seeing how time is running out for these characters and knowing this is probably the only night they will get to share together. Anyone who has gone out alone with another couple knows that it can be very boring spending time with them, but you never feel this way about Jesse and Celine because their conversations are so interesting that one wouldn't mind spending time with them and just observing how they interact with each other. That is how I felt about this authentically romantic film.
Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is a young American tourist in Europe who has been traveling across Europe in train. His next stop is Vienna where he will spend the night and take the morning plane back home. Celine (Julie Delpy), a young French woman is returning on the same train from visiting her grandmother. Jesse and Celine exchange glances and begin flirting with each other. When the train arrives at Vienna, Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train with him and spend the night sightseeing. She agrees and the film focuses its entire attention on the interaction they have with each other during that night before sunrise while they visit different spots in Vienna. They have some great and deep conversations about love, relationships, and life. They both know this will probably be their only night together, which is a shame because they share a really strong connection together.
The film is so brutally honest and authentic that Before Sunrise has become a classic for romanticists everywhere and it inspired two more follow up films by director Linklater. Linklater first came to the attention with his film Slackers and later Dazed and Confused, but his Before trilogy will probably be what he will be remembered for. He has also directed completely different genre films like School of Rock and Bernie. My personal favorite of his is Bernie, but Before Sunrise comes in a close second. I'm all set for Before Sunset now and am thankful I didn't have to wait 9 years to see the resolution of this sweet couple's story. This is a bittersweet movie and it portrays love and relationships in such an authentic way that it stands out as one of the greatest examples of how a romantic film must be made. A few scenes stand out above the rest for me, like the scene where Celine and Jesse have an imaginary conversation with each other as if they were talking to their best friends about their adventure (some important plot points are explained here as to why Jesse was in the train and why Celine agreed to get off with him), and the scene where Jesse makes fun of Celine for believing in the fortune teller's words. There are some really touching and sweet conversations and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy give great and memorable performances. Not only the dialogues worked, but the non-verbal conversation between them was outstanding. Before Sunrise is a must see!