Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunrise Sunset - Two Movies

We watched two small but amazing movies this weekend: Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Both starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy, and both are essentially long conversations. In Before Sunrise, released in 1995, their characters, American Jesse and Celine, a Parisian student, meet on a train traveling through Europe and get off together in Vienna. They spend the night walking and talking - knowing they may never see each other again.

The 2004 Before Sunset is the sequel. Jesse returns to Europe, a successful author touring a book essentially about their Vienna encounter. Celine shows up at his last stop in a Paris bookstore. They have a few hours to pick up where they left off nine years ago before Jesse flies back home.

Delphy radiates a natural beauty, enthusiasm and charm that had me in love with her. She hardly changes in the nine years (story-wise and in reality) between their encounters. Hawke, young and dashingly handsome in the first, is a bit world-worn four years into the new Millennium.

Their conversations are never dull and amazingly naturalistic with no hint of scripting. Director Richard Linklater and crew pull off long, uninterrupted steady cam shots as Jesse and Celine talk their way through the streets of Paris.

In the special features on the second DVD, we learn that Before Sunset was was shot in 15 days - a collaboration between the two actors and Linklater. Delphy wrote much of the script and is credited with composing the song she sings near the end.

Definitely watch them in order. They could easily been one long movie, but it's more fun to see the actors as they have actually matured rather than through makeup. Both are available on DVD from Netflix.