We all have them. Favorite movies we can watch over and over, films we turn to when we need to unwind or we’re sick on the couch or we just need a pick me up. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are definitely on my top ten list. I’ve watched them both so many times that the characters feel like old friends. I hadn’t seen them in quite some time – I blame my DVR and the Roku for all the dust on my DVD collection – but over the holiday weekend, I pulled them out.
I popped Before Sunrise into the DVR and there I was, wandering the night time streets of Vienna with Jesse and Celine, falling in love with the city and with both of them just like I did the first time. I was only a few years older than their characters when the film came out in 1994, so I totally related to their angst about their own mortality, the true nature of love, and the complexities of relationships.
When the Before Sunset came out, Jesse, Celine and I were all nine years older. I could completely understand the places these characters were in when fate tossed them together once again, this time in Paris. Their experiences had colored their personalities and changed some of their questions, but that was true for me, as well. Almost a decade had passed, but it was so easy for all three of us to reconnect. 🙂
What is it I love about these films? Beyond the music, the cinematography and the amazing peeks in to the cities – which really are treated as characters in their own right – the movies are each just a long conversation punctuated by laughter and the occasional smoking hot kiss. But the conversations work, at least for me. They’re seamless, natural and so revealing of character without being overt. I know Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (who are both writers as well as actors) helped craft the script, that they did a lot of improvising along the path and that writer/director Richard Linklater considered them co-creators of the films, especially the second, with featured Ms. Delpy’s music as part of the soundtrack. All of this probably contributed to the marvelously organic feeling of the films, and I’ve just learned that they’re putting their collaborative genius back to work on a third film. Yay!!
Tell me about one of your favorite films. Why do you love it? Have you watched it so many times that the characters feel like old friends to you?