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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Before Sunrise

I usually avoide fully romantic films (films with romantic subplots are less offensive) as they usually fall into trope. One lovely exception to this rule I have found is Before Sunrise. Taking place in a single day and night after Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet on a train and after the briefest of encounters he convinces her to disembark at Vienna with him and spend the day exploring the city. They don't even know each other's names when she agrees and they grab their bags. The film has a soft, natural flow and the simple, but deep conversations make it feel like the documentary-style television show Jesse suggests in one of their first interactions. While Jesse is charming with his self-deprecating humor and exuberance (and his oh-so-charming physical mannerisms like his shy desire to touch her hair that leads to this reach and retracting hovering hand behind Celine's head), it is ultimately Celine who steals my heart as she declares she hates men on the street who ask her to smile in order to make their day better and later declares men are lucky women don't rip mens' heads off after sex like certain insects. She's disarming and complex; both are--they are insecure, but passionate about their points of view, each a unique mix of cynicism and romanticism. He mocks the fortune teller that charms her, but kisses her at the top of the ferris wheel without irony and claims to still feel like a thirteen year old boy pretending to be an adult. The film is an accurate depiction of those perfect moments we all have experienced at one point or another--it's not usually an entire day wandering with a stranger until sunrise, but rather that heartfelt conversation with someone you're just getting to know at the end of a party in a quiet corner at 1am that opens up secrets you don't normally talk about. The beauty of Before Sunrise lies not it witty dialogue, or striking cinematic sweeps, but rather its ability to capture a genuine portrait of life.
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