Parting is such sweet sorrow.
I think it's always heartbreaking to say the least, when you have to part ways with someone whom you feel an immense connection with. Be it after a single date of the evening, and definitely when the separation is going to be longer. And Richard Linklater has encapsulated this feeling in Before Sunrise perfectly.
11 years is a long time, and that's exactly how old this movie is, but it never felt dated as I watched it for the very first time today. I too have heard about the premise, and wondered whether it would be possible to try and do what they did. No such luck :P But romanticism doesn't die, and I think I'm still holding on to that sliver of hope to be swept and sweep someone off their feet in the same manner, under mutually attractive circumstances, exploring a new city without any plan whatsoever on what will happen. Junk plans, order, and processes, and just welcome and embrace the unknown, together with a special someone.
It's all about moments, and the seizing of chances as they come along. This movie is dialogue laden, but it doesn't bore. The characters discuss a vast range of topics, from their fears, family, their past relationships, and of course, love. They flirt with each other through an overnight stay in Vienna, Austria, all the while conscious that their impromptu and spontaneous decision to join each other in a night about town, will have to end come the next morning, with each going about their separate ways.
It's easy to exploit the film and turn it into a "Visit Austria" commercial, and I'm glad that it didn't. Rather, having it serve as a backdrop to an intense, short relationship worked wonders both ways. The performances by Ethan Hawke (as the American Jesse) and Julie Delpy (as French student Celine) are top notch, and would have you believe right away that these are two lovebirds falling in love with each other in the early stages of their relationship. I believed.
However, despite the upbeat premise about love, the movie somehow had this sense of gloom hanging over it, and it is uncomfortable, though the feeling's made lighter by the lovers having great conversation, and having a great time hanging out. They don't skirt unhappy issues either, as past relationships which didn't worked were discussed, and that too struck a chord within me, especially Jesse's recollection of what happened just before he boarded the train, the bit about how little others have thought about you. Definite ouch in my direction.
There are many beautiful moments in the movie, but my absolute love is the one where the couple enters a listening booth to sample a vinyl. Everything there is to say about love, just happened to be captured so succinctly. Despite being a talkie movie, there is totally no need for any dialogue. The stealing of glances of each other, is done to perfection, it just brings back any memories you have of yourself stealing glances at your other half. Everything about this scene is perfect, and I can rave about it till the cows come home. Simply amazing, and you have to see it to believe! This scene alone will justify watching the movie!
This movie is so damn good, I just wanna watch it again, before I pop the sequel into the DVD player. Watch this! And it goes into my list of all time favourites!
Warner Bros Code 3 DVD contains no extras, save for the theatrical trailer. Which is kind of disappointing. Visual and audio transfers are great though, with 4 different subtitles to choose from, and scene selection features.