This post is inspired by the really gloomy weather we’ve been having lately. I’ve decided to do a series (maybe three or four) on my favorite movies to watch on a rainy day.
The first one is Before Sunset. This movie – which stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy and directed by Richard Linklater is actually the sequel of Before Sunrise.
First – a bit about Before Sunrise. It’s quite a romantic movie. A young American man named Jesse (Hawke) is travelling by train in Europe from Budapest to Vienna, when he meets a lovely young French girl named Celine (Delpy). There is an instant connection and chemistry between them, and they decide to capitalize on this by spending the entire day in beautiful, romantic Vienna. It is a movie where nothing really happens – except the slow and steady build-up of Jesse and Celine’s attraction to each other, which we can see with the ease and intimacy by which they have their conversations. But there’s a catch. Jesse has to leave the next morning to catch his flight back home. And because of this, their time together becomes all the more bittersweet and more poignant.
As they are about to part ways, they agree to meet each other at the train station after six months. No numbers, email addresses, no home addresses, because they believe that if they keep in touch, the humdrum of their daily lives would encroach on the magic of their one night.
Before Sunset then, is the movie that came nine years later, to tell us exactly what happened to these star-crossed lovers.
You know why I like this movie better than its predecessor? Because it is so real.
Before Sunrise was a whirlwind romance, of young lovers — carefree and beautiful, on a star-strewn night.
Before Sunset is the story about the grim morning after. Jesse and Celine meet again, because Jesse is in Paris for a small press event for his book. Celine drops by on him.
When they get to see each other again, we see that Jesse is clearly flabbergasted. We then find out that Jesse was at the train station to keep their promise, but that Celine couldn’t make it because of the death of her grandmother.
And with that one, missed appointment, the two are compelled to lead drastically different lives.
Jesse is married, has a kid and is now a writer. Celine is an activist of sorts, who is dating a photojournalist.
This movie follows the formula of the previous one – where conversations between the two happen in real time and is the mechanism that propels the story forward. This time, they walk around Paris – on a bright afternoon. The glare of the sun a metaphor for the stark reality that they have woken up to, after that dreamy night nine years ago.
Whereas once they were bright-eyed, robust with hope about life’s endless possibilities, now we can see that both carry a lot of emotional baggage. They are more gaunt, with bags under their eyes and the first hint of wrinkles.
They are also more cynical, world weary. They once both held on to a magical possibility, but had their hopes dashed.
It is very painful to watch. Especially the scene in the car where Jesse talks about his unhappy marriage, and as he looks off to the window with tears in his eyes and bitterness in his voice, Celine reaches out to touch him, but stops short.
The movie ends as Celine makes tea for Jesse in her apartment. Once again, Jesse has a plane to catch, that will bring him home to his wife and child. But here he is with the love of his life. Will he go back? Will he stay with Celine? The clock is ticking. And we are left to guess as to what happens next, as Celine dances to an Ella Fitzgerald record, Jesse gazing at her, and the screen fades to black.
“Oh honey, you are going to miss that flight.”
Watch if you are in need of a good cry. Also to see some of Paris’ nice spots.