There are few films as honest as Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. Since its release more than eighteen years ago, audiences have been touched by the intimacy of this unique boy-meets-girl story.
French actress Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke of Dead Poet’s Society fame play Céline and Jesse, two strangers who meet on a train traveling through Europe. She is travelling home to Paris whilst he is flying home to America the next morning. They strike up a conversation and Jesse, unable to afford to stay in a hotel, convinces Céline to disembark and spend the hours before his flight with him. With the moonlit city of Vienna as their backdrop, a relationship forms between them despite the lingering awareness that they are unlikely to see each other again when they part ways the next morning.
The success of the film rests entirely on the shoulders of Hawke and Delpy, their chemistry holding the plot together. Both approach this with a sensitivity and sense of humour that makes it easy to forget that they are actors.
Céline’s thoughtful and passionate way of life is a juxtaposition to the child-like spontaneity of Jesse and both actors successfully convey the youthful sense of adventure in their characters. Their lives play out in such a way that the audience have the impression that they are seeing a real relationship unfold before them. Penned with intelligence and wit by director Linklater, it is dedicated to all who have been in love, are in love or in hope of love.
Despite having a plot so simple that it could’ve been written on the back of one of their train tickets, the film captured the ups and downs of intimate relationships with a beautiful honesty that would captivate audiences of all ages.