Two people meeting in a place under unusual circumstances (on a train in a foreign country), and then building a bond over a single day that evolves into something really special very, very quickly.
This is exactly happens with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy who do a wonderful job playing two genuine people who have their own set of ideas, aspirations, fears, memories and unique personalities to go with them.
They spend an evening in Vienna and create a memorable flashbulb moment out of it. One instant that sticks out in my mind is when they are sitting at a restaurant with many conversations going on around them. However, the two of them have pretend telephone conversations with other people. Through it Jesse and Celine learn how the other feels about them. It is so beautifully captured because they do not have to say it directly, but through this roundabout way they know.
Perhaps this film sounds like a bore to some and it may in fact be because a lot of it is talking. But Linklater and his collaborators frame it in such a way that I was very much engaged. Isn’t a lot of life talking anyways? In that way it had a spontaneous, realistic feel and that is thanks to a solid script along with the candid delivery of the leads. When I first saw Julie Delphy I had no idea she was French and it took me a while to catch on. She and Hawke play well off of each other and it is interesting to be able to eavesdrop on their conversations.
Before Sunrise was a pleasant surprise because it failed to fall into many of the normal conventions of romantic comedies and instead it rose above the mediocrity to tackle the ins and outs of love and life through frank and wonderfully unadulterated conversation. I cannot wait for more of Linklater’s trilogy.