Friday, February 8, 2008

Romantic Double Feature

Before Sunrise and Before Sunset
Written and Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke
Sometimes the “To Be Read” pile doesn’t hold any appeal, and you just want to park yourself in front of the TV. Rather than torture yourself with the very thin selection of shows left by the Hollywood writers’ strike, pop in a DVD. Two of my favorite romantic movies feature the same couple at two different points in their lives. In Before Sunrise we meet Jesse and Celine, two college students on a train to Venice. Jesse is an American who has recently been dumped by his girlfriend and has spent the last six weeks traveling around Europe. Celine is a young French woman on her way back to Paris and her university studies after a visit with her grandmother. The two strike up a conversation and soon Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train with him in Vienna, where he is to catch a flight home the next morning. Since he doesn’t have enough money for a hotel, he plans to just spend the night walking around the city and seeing the sights. Celine agrees to join in the adventure, and the rest of the movie follows their perambulations around Vienna as romance blossoms between them. As the sun rises, Jesse leaves Celine at the train station, and the two vow to meet again in six months. As the train rolls out of the station, and Jesse heads to the airport, we are left to wonder if these two ever do manage to follow up on their initial connection.

Apparently enough people wondered that writer/director Richard Linklater and his two stars decided to make a sequel. Before Sunset takes place nine years after the original, and we once again meet Jesse and Celine, this time in Paris. Jesse has written a book about his night in Vienna with Celine, and is on a European book tour. Celine shows up at a book signing, and we get to find out what has transpired since we last saw the two. Once again Jesse has a plane to catch, but the two have several hours to spend catching up and wandering around Paris. We learn what directions their lives have taken, and start hoping once again that the two will connect before the credits roll.

Both of these films are emotionally satisfying, with excellent acting and beautiful scenery. What a great way to satisfy a romance craving if you don’t feel like cracking the spine of a book!

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