Once, I was sitting in a sauna at the YMCA when I overheard a woman vehemently criticizing one of my all time favorite films, “Before Sunrise“.
“They just walk around…talking…the whole movie! Nothing happens”.
Nothing happens? Everything happens! Two people meet on a train and wander around Vienna, and talking about magic and memories, about spirituality, travel, life, death and metaphysical energy, and they fall in love in the process. That’s the greatest night ever. That’s everyone’s travel fantasy. I was obsessed with this film in high school. What I would have given to meet a man like mid-90′s Ethan Hawke. How I wanted to be ethereal and mysterious like a young Julie Delpy. How I wanted to explore a European city– to go places, to have been places. To have something to say and to truly be heard.
Still, I can appreciate the woman’s complaint. The movie is hardly action packed, it is very much a conversation based piece. There are no bad-guys or major obstacles, it’s extremely mellow. It’s walking and talking. But it’s impossibly romantic, and mildly philosophical slice of life picture. Also, the photography is excellent and the actors have serious chemistry. Ordinarily I would say something, I like to defend the things I love, but she didn’t deserve to understand how special this film was.
“Before Sunset” followed a few years later, and I also love that film. The original has an ambiguous ending, and so the follow-up was completely necessary and totally satisfying, like catching up with old friends. Most recently a third film was released. Sadly it was not released in my city, but I wait with bated breath the day I get to experience “Before Midnight“.
As for today, my husband and I, worn down from the week, had downgraded a planned night out for dinner and a movie, to nachos and rented DVD‘s. At the Movie Mart, I spotted the series on a shelf. Four dollars for both films, I’d be a fool not to snap them up. And so, while my husband played a bit of X-Box, I tucked into the office, a place I have not spent much time, and half-watched the film as I puttered about. What I love about this movie, now almost twenty years old, is that within the scenes and dialogue are my own memories and aspirations: what I wanted for my life, where I wanted to go, who I wanted to meet. How this film reflected a romantic version of the life I craved. I grew up in a small town, and had a perfectly dark and difficult youth. This movie was so light and lovely that it genuinely brought joy into my claustrophobic existence. To watch it now, many years since the last time– having traveled, having found love, having grown up–it’s interesting to compare the then to the now. And it’s the strangest feeling, how you can suddenly feel like a teenaged girl and a grown woman at the exact same time, like this cinematic quantum leap; like being able to tell your younger self: You will go somewhere. You will meet someone. You will be alright.
Images Courtesy of Google