I was uncommonly relaxed yesterday, so I did what I do every year or so: I watched Before Sunrise.
It’s a beautiful movie. I know I’ve definitely talked about it here before, but every time I watch it, the experience begs talking about. With each passing year I see different aspects of the film, draw new inferences from its dialogue based on renewed life experience. The film ages but its dialogue doesn’t, while I do and my perspective does. With each lap around the sun I’m delving further back into past experiences to relate. I love the film. It makes Vienna look magical, with this timelessness elegance to it. Young Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are gorgeous, and it’s so rewarding looking at how they age with each film in the trilogy. The lines and creases they earn, never dulling. The dialogue has this soft knife’s edge to it, in that they’re both skirting opposite sides of the same ideas but rarely aggressively. Opposing notions have space to breathe and co-exist. It’s a wonderful patter and, even if it seems like Linklater’s voice through two characters at times, it’s been curved enough by his writing partner Kim Krizan to not totally sound like Céline’s a male written female character.
Watching this film makes me doe eyed and wistful. I adore the film so much and with each viewing, lines come back that I’d long lost. I interpret others in all new ways. I ache to see Jesse and Céline come together and feel the tension of their parting in an almost physical manner. The film imbues me with wanderlust, so enamoured with the romantic notion of exploring an unfamiliar place, open to new experiences. It makes me want to vanish from the city and wander, to invite the creativity that rides tandem with the unknown back into my mind. When I travel my brain unhinges. There’s a freedom to a life without habit and it pays dividends. Living to a schedule is very helpful when you need to get things done, but I’m a different person when I travel, as most of us are. I see Jesse and Céline traipse through Vienna and I’m thrown back to my arrival in Canada, not knowing what excitement or life changing direction could be around any corner. Conversations with strangers in parks or trains leading to unforeseen experiences. Giving into the magic of chaos and trusting in fate. Sensible? Of course not. Romantic? Very much so.
I watch Jesse and Céline and see people I love, people I’ve loved. I notice aspects of some of my closest friends, mannerisms. I recall the way an ex laughed or tossed her hair. I think back to spontaneous romance in my past. I recall first dates that were greater than the sum of their parts. Vibrant and unexpected connections. Conversations that never seemed to end. I question what parts of myself live within both characters. I marvel at how Linklater and Krizan were able to craft such relatable characters, both of them. Not caricatures, but breathing evocations who leapt off the page and lived through the screen. I question my actions and wonder what if? Did I ever call it quits too soon? Should I have left earlier? What lives did I miss out on because of who I was at the time, not who I’ve become? Would I have become who I was without things turning out as they did? What culmination of chance had to come together to get me here? Who would I have been had I made one big choice differently?
Of course I watched Before Sunset too.