Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Release date: January 27 (US). Compiling this list, they were just titles on a screen; I could only guess the content. For this, I guessed vampires. May contain slavering blood stained fangs and spoilers…
Have you ever been out with a mate who pulls and you don’t? The three of you are at a table, those two are making baby noises at each other while you play the gooseberry. Eventually, you do one of those “Y’know what, I’m just nipping to the phone a minute…” (coz this is back in the day, right) and they don’t even notice you’re gone. That’s what watching Before Sunrise feels like. 20-30 minutes in you can go off and do whatever needs doing round yer crib, come back around the 85-90 minute-mark and do a “Hey, how you kids getting on?” You won’t have missed anything of great importance. You’ve all done this stuff, haven’t you, maybe not in Vienna, but somewhere. You’ve had these conversations. You may even curl up on a comfy sofa with your partner and say; “Oh my god, this is so like us…” And so it may be, but do you really need two actors to play out what you’ve already lived? Pardon me but no, you don’t.
He’s dead funny when he wafts his hands around
Jesse gets lucky enough to have pretty Celine sit opposite him on a train. It’s recognisable; this kinda shizzle happens in real life, meet a stranger on a trip and get chatting. They wander to the buffet car and start talking about rock all. Celine says the ‘F’ word; edgy or what. They continue to talk about rock all, none of it information I would regard as crucial to getting to know these people. His stop arrives, Vienna, and on a whim he asks Celine to get off the train with him even though she’s going home to Paris. She agrees – odd, coz I had her down as intelligent. I mean, he could be a killer rapist, or worse (he’s worse). They get on a tram and play a ‘question’ game where they ask each other quirky personal questions, about first sexual experience and love. It’s so sweet. I’ve done this too. Talking, talking… A record shop! I’ve done this as well, Jesse and Celine are treading the same well worn path of lovers the world over. She puts on a record and it’s really cool because the lyrics are about them, it’s now their song, when they hear it on the radio they will think of each other. I nearly cried. They look uncomfortable, perhaps one of them has farted and the other doesn’t want to say anything. But I don’t think Jesse or Celine have ever farted in their lives.
The police warn women about doing this kind of stupid thing
“Look, there’s a rabbit!”
We share Celine’s excitement. They stroll through a graveyard – incredible, I’ve done that too. How does Mr Linklater know about these moments from my life? He is a visionary, like Zack Snyder. Luckily, they find a Fun Fair to lift the stench of death, a Ferris Wheel, a setting sun over a beautiful city… a tremulous kiss. Ooooh, close, Link-face; mine was on the Ghost Train. Jesse and Celine are having such a laugh at the Fun Fair I want to be there, I’m jealous and I’m starting to detest Jesse and his creaking leather jacket (cue Queen – I see a little leather jacket on a man – Scaramouche! Scaramouche! I will kick his feckin face in!) A café now.. oh, brilliant, a gypsy palm reader – who doesn’t love a good palm reading, eh. She likes the look of Celine’s lines; she sees the ‘power of the woman’ there. Deep, innit.
“You’re both stardust… heh-heh-heh…”
Well that was money well spent.
“Erm… oh, I know – how long did it take you to grow that stylish goatee?”
They have a look at some artwork on a poster and Celine ruminates on the artist’s particular style; “Human figures are so transitory…” She’s right isn’t she. It’s clever because she doesn’t just mean the art work, but life in general. We are. I particularly feel transitory when I’m on the bus going to work. Ah, a church now, still and ethereal. Celine feels older while Jesse feels younger. She observes that on the Ferris Wheel she felt like an older woman kissing a young boy. I’m glad she shared that with us. Sicko.
“This is a horrible story.” Preach it, brother!
They wander along the river bank and meet an enterprising vagrant who, instead of flogging a Big Issue at them, will write a poem for cash based around a word of their choice. Can’t say I’ve ever encountered a similarly inspired Manc tramp, though a lady-friend and I were once serenaded by one. I say ‘sing’, it was more an elongated gurgle somewhere in the vicinity of Whiter Shade Of Pale. Jesse and Celine choose the word ‘milkshake’. The bum scribbles his poem and it’s amazing, because it’s really all about Jesse and Celine, just like their record. Vienna is their canvas; the city exists only for them. It’s delightful. I glance at the running time – 50 minutes… there’s another 46 still to go. Ah, here we go, a dingy and dangerous looking club. Of course, Before Sunrise… it’s about vampires, this is where the film will take a dramatic left turn, this is where the vampires feed, Celine is in mortal danger… They play pinball.
“Tell me about your ex-boyfriend.”
“No, it’s boring.”
Yes it is, so don’t. But of course she will. They talk of personal break-ups with significant others while the pinball machine clunks away endlessly. I’m starting to despise Celine as well now. And off they go, walking and talking about rock all again…
Look, he’s doing that hand thing again, it’s feckin hilarious!
“There are these breeds of monkey who have sex all the time.”
If only these two dullards could listen to themselves. Mr Linklater, I know we lovers talk absolute drivel to one another but understand, it’s different, speaking it and having to listen to somebody else speaking it. And now we get to the ‘gender war’ conversation; can one gender survive without the other? Come on, who hasn’t had this playful ding-dong? Jesse and Celine are us, it’s like looking at a snapshot of past loves and losses. As they stand watching a belly dancer, you cannot help but watch that belly dancer through their eyes. What do they (we) see? A wobbly belly. Nice eatery now – Austrians talking in German… what are they saying? Are they having the same conversations as Jesse and Celine? She’s imitating a telephone – good, it’s just like a real telephone. Oh, I get it, it’s an imaginary call to a friend and he’s playing the friend. This is ingenious because she can now tell him everything she wants to say to him so that he knows how she feels about him. He’s doing it now! Rather than just say “I’ve fallen in love with you”, have an imaginary phone call with them. Why have I never thought of that?
“I thought everything I said was stupid.” Nice one, Sherlock. 70 minutes.
She’s thinking – ‘I could be back in Paris now…’
A boat restaurant now, they’re talking about death again and saying goodbye. They say goodbye to each other even though they aren’t going yet. It’s so they don’t have to say goodbye when it’s time to say goodbye. Another bar, Jesse somehow blags a free bottle of red wine from an understanding barman. Celine robs two glasses off a table and they go to a park and drink and lie on the grass looking up at the moon. It’s beautiful. She doesn’t want to shag him because they’ll never see each other again but she does want to shag him really and he definitely wants to shag her. What a pair of dismal, pretentious cunts. I think they do bump ‘em, or maybe it’s just a heavy snogging session. Go on, I’ll stick my knob out and say they bumped ‘em. Sunrise… a harpsichord plays and they stop to listen. It’s a lovely moment. Jesse imitates Dylan Thomas – it’s better than his telephone impression. Goodbye… though they don’t know whether to meet again, but they do want to meet again, just both were afraid to say so, but they can’t decide when – I think they start at 10 years and knock each other down to 6 months, it’s like haggling in an Egyptian bazaar, or not as I’ve never done it so it might not be – but they’re not going to call or write to each other because that’s “boring”. Morons. Swap phone numbers and call each other when you get home and stop being such soul-sapping, quasi-existential cock sockets.
Mind you don’t fall…
The camera visits all the places they’ve been to in Vienna, now empty and poignant. I’m empty and poignant too.
Before Sunrise can have 2 With Love From Wolfs out of 5.
ThereWolf, May 2012