by Allan Fish
(USA 2004 80m) DVD1/2
Strangers in the night part deux
p Anne Walker McBay d Richard Linklater w Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke ph Lee Daniel ed Sandra Adair m Julie Delpy, Nina Simone, Glover Gill art Baptiste Glaymann
Ethan Hawke (Jesse), Julie Delpy (Céline), Vernon Dobtcheff (publisher agent),
When I first saw Before Sunrise, Richard Linklater’s dreamy romance centring round a chance encounter in Vienna, I was the same age as the protagonists. Jesse was the American guy bumming around Europe on a discount rail card and Céline was a Sorbonne student returning from Hungary to Paris after visiting family. It would have been easy to fall for the finger-of-fate-twisting schematics of Linklater’s film, its inherent simplicity and its charming leads. A film based on the notion of seizing the night, as it were, and letting tomorrow worry for itself. It didn’t make me fall for it, however.
We last saw the couple standing on a platform in Vienna saying goodbye and promising to meet up in six months. We knew they wouldn’t, or rather I assumed they wouldn’t, and in many ways there lay the problem that was, if not rectified, then at least explained by the opening sequence of the sequel. Jesse has published a story based on that night, a fictionalised personal account, and he’s asked at a gathering whether the characters met up six months down the line. Jesse merely replies that it depends on whether you’re a romantic or a cynic, and that was my problem in 1995, I was already somewhat cynical and the romanticism seemed somewhat precious. Nine years on I found myself able to relate a whole lot more because cynicism gnaws at you like piranhas on a corpse. Being cynical in your early twenties is hip, but in one’s thirties fills you with regret so your cynicism catches up with you and makes you wish for something to be hopeful about. You find yourself longing for lost opportunities and, as such, Céline and Jesse’s fears and vanquished dreams seemed all the more real. (more…)