While staying at George and Sarah’s house, I whiled away a sleepless (and thoroughly unproductive) evening watching ‘Before Sunrise’ again. I haven’t seen this film since I went to see it at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith nearly two years ago with a painfully pretty girl (note to readers: if you’re gonna fill your time, it might as well be with faces worth looking at), and since it’s one of my favourites, I thought it was more than time again to rewatch and reevaluate. I’ve heard this called the ‘perfect first date’ movie (in my aunt and uncle’s case, it was their first date movie. I can understand why people think that – it’s a movie that wants you to fall in love with it.
The set up is simple: Two young strangers, an American guy and a French girl meet on a train, and spend one night together in Vienna. That’s it. It really shouldn’t work as a good movie – you know exactly where its going from their first glance. The whole thing is just two people talking yet still. The characters don’t even really change…Two oh so jaded pretentious gap year kids talk philsophy, love and loss around a European city. Oh god…I hear you cry. Someone’s let the wanky film students out before they’ve been clobbered with the social-realism stick. And still, STILL, it draws you into its meandering stream of romantic, (yet, seemingly, plausible) set pieces.
The writing invariable gets a lot of the credit, but I don’t really think that’s the key. For me, the film is an absolute directing masterclass. I have a lot of love for Linklatter. He’s one of America’s most sensitive film makers…the quality and range of his work is inspiring. Here, he has cast two wonderful young actors in Delphy and Hawke, who spark with an earnest chemistry. So many lines in this film could be absolute duds, but out of their mouths, you forgive them anything. It’s mainly because they play this lovely dichotomy of world-weariness & romanticism that’s goes against convention. They try so hard to play it cool, slightly cynical, but this compelling drive to love burns beneath all of their actions. The record store booth scene is one of those brilliant little nuggets of cinema. No other medium could make that moment as affecting as it is. So yes. I have been all over this film since I saw it in my first year of uni. It gets me all misty eyed and feeling loved up.
That is, it USUALLY does, but not this time. This time…there was a distance. Gone was my willful identification with the leads. I felt set back from it in a way that horrified me. Is it that whereas last time I was 23 (the age, I think, the characters are in the film – it’s thereabouts) and now I’m 25, I can no longer indulge them they mewling? Have I given up on the idea of a similar ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience? Are gap years too passe? Maybe I’ve just seen it too many times. Either way, it kills me to have had that reaction. What to do, what to do… I’ve always thought ‘Before Sunset’, the sequel, was the stronger movie. Perhaps seeing that again will help me claw back the love? I’ll let you know how it works out.
In other news – I’ve recently got onboard with mindmapping. It’s bloody brilliant! Why have I not been using this before to sort out the bombsite of ideas that is my thinking space? I’ve started off using Mindnode , and I’m enjoying it – it’s got a very clean interface. Just words, lines and more words. Perfick.