A few nights back I finally got around to watching Before Sunset. I always had plans to watch it. I wanted to see it in the theater when it came out. I have watched Before Sunrise more than a hanful of times. I don't know what held me back from seeing this one for so long.
Here, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke reprise their roles of Jesse and Celine from Before Sunset. They had ended Before Sunset promising to meet in 6 months at a train station. The movie begins here 9 years later with Hawke's character at a book signing in Paris. They didn't meet at the train station. He has written a "fictional" book which is obvious to the viewer based on the real events that we had seen in Before Sunrise. Then towards the end of the signing we see Delpy's character Celine waiting in the wings. This is a suprise to Jesse. Though you get the feeling it is definitely what he wanted. They agree after the signing to get coffee.
For the next 80 minutes or so, there is nearly no dialogue except that of Celine and Jesse. You are watching it in real time. Plot points don't really matter. Their dialogue is the plot. It's all that matters. It is heartbreaking, humerous, and throughout just rings true. Jesse is married with a kid now. Celine has a boyfriend. Their conversation should not be so free flowing, so easy, or so honest. It is. They talk freely and openly about Jesse's marraige. About Celine's boyfriend being a photographer in a war zone and her fears about that. About growing up, or growing old. And the fears that come along with that. And the joys too. There is talk of sex, but it doesn't need to be shown. Their connection is much deeper than just sex.
Nearly anyone can relate to the story. Nearly everyone, even at the happiest times have had our minds drift at times to a certain "what if." Often times, that "what if" is idealized. I mean really when you look back the you realize that you like the idea of the person, or what you have created them to stand for througout years of memories. In time sometimes we heap create new memories on top of the old. Almost as a way of enhancing or amplifying the old memories. As if to make ourselves believe that maybe the ideal of this person, this time, really happened.
The thing about Before Sunset is that it leaves open the possibility that these weren't just amplified memories. These events did really happen. She really did exist. She still does. Maybe it isn't you tricking yourself in your mind. It so completely devoid of cynicism. It's probably the most romantic movie I have ever seen. I can only think of a handful of movies I have seen which are better.