11 February 2005 | The_Void
Casablanca for the 1990's - pure cinematic gold
Before Sunrise is romance for the slacker generation. Richard Linklater's romantic drama is an offbeat telling of a dream come true for most people. The film depicts romance in all it's glory, but without any of the pitfalls that befall most couples; and in short the film is about two people that have a relationship that's as close to perfection as relationships will ever come to - with just one problem, the problem of time. While most relationships wind down with time, this one keeps going strong throughout and time itself is the only thing that wears out. Before Sunrise is certainly not the typical sentimental 'Hollywood romance', which is another aspect that puts this film leagues ahead of the pretenders. The story follows two people, Jesse; an American and Celine; a French girl that meet on a train into Vienna. They instantly connect, and after telling her his awful idea for a television show and almost getting off the train, Jesse asks Celine to join him for the day in the picturesque city of Vienna...
Before Sunrise works principally for two reasons - realistic acting and an immense script that builds the characters through their thoughts and feelings and thus allows us to get to know them as we do the people in real life. This allows the characters to be free, and it's easy to believe that these are real people and not just actors working from a script. This also allows us to feel for the characters for who they are, and not merely because they're the protagonists. This kind of realism is hard to capture as, at the end of the day, we as the audience know that they're watching a film and not observing real life; but Before Sunrise represents one of the truest to life exhibitions of realism ever to be seen on screen. A truly great script cannot work on it's own, and needs great actors to deliver it to an extent that does it justice, and although I'm not a fan of either Julie Deply or Ethan Hawke; on viewing this film, there is nothing you can do but give them both respect. I don't know whether they were in character or just playing themselves, but when a film is this good; it hardly matters.
In a film like this, it is the writing that's the most important thing, and contained within the script are several observations about life, most of which I personally could relate to. This represents what Richard Linklater has achieved with this script as not only does it create and build the characters, but it also manages to expose what true love is, along with several other aspects of life. The fact that not all the anecdotes are relatable to me personally again represents the brilliance of writing. Everyone is different, and so different parts of the script will appeal to different people. There could be certain aspects about one person that one person loves and another hates; and that's the case with the musings in this script. Adding to the beauty of the film is the city of Vienna. The city itself isn't really important to the film as this is a story that could have taken place just about anywhere - but it makes for some lovely visuals and the upbeat, energetic romance that blossoms throughout the movie is matched by the beauty of the location.
Before Sunrise is simultaneously beautiful and captivating. Richard Linklater has created something that is rare in the world of cinema; a film that captures the beauty of life without ever going over the top or being overly sentimental. Before Sunrise is what it is. And what it is, is pure cinematic brilliance.