Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Jesse: I know what you mean about wishing somebody wasn’t there, though. It’s just usually it’s myself that I wish I could get away from. Seriously, think about this. I have never been anywhere that I haven’t been. I’ve never had a kiss when I wasn’t one of the kissers. Y’know, I’ve never, um, gone to the movies, when I wasn’t there in the audience. I’ve never been out bowling, if I wasn’t there, y’know making some stupid joke. I think that’s why so many people hate themselves. Seriously, it’s just they are sick to death of being around themselves.
Jesse (Hawke), an American, meets a French girl, Celine (Delpy), on a train going through Europe. They begin talking and Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train with him in Vienna so that he’ll have somebody to walk around with overnight instead of having to pay for a hotel. They have an instant connection, but both know that soon Jesse will be heading back to America while Celine heads back to Paris.
I had already seen, and reviewed, the sequel to this movie, Before Sunset. While I think I liked that movie slightly more than this one, I still liked this movie quite a bit. Again, it’s because the two leads work so well together. It’s not often that you find this much natural sounding conversation in a movie, so it really stands out when you do see it. The characters say awkward things at times, as well as stuff that’s just scattered and nonsensical, but that’s real life.
Sometimes I think we’re all “people watchers” on some level, though some of us more than others, so a movie like this is perfect for the “people watchers” of the world. You basically just sit back and watch two people get to know each other over the course of an evening, which to me is much more fascinating than watching two people inserted into some sort of contrived action/adventure/comic situation. We also see them interact with various other characters throughout the night, but those scenes are really the weakest in the movie in my opinion.
This film also captures that feeling of knowing something is coming to an end but not wanting to think about it or face it. Jesse and Celine know they’ll be parting ways in the morning, but it’s a subject they dance around indirectly before making a wishy-washy agreement about what the future holds for their relationship. Though, when the moment of departure arrives, all those plans go right out the window.
I think having seen the sequel to this movie first increased my enjoyment of it on some level. Some of their conversations had more impact when I knew how their eventual reunion would go. Though, I’d still recommend seeing this one first if you’ve never seen either of them.
10 – 1.7 for a few dull spots with the other random characters – .4 for their instant connection being a little hard to believe = 7.9