Before Before Sunrise (the 1995 Richard Linklater film), Phong showed us a short, and luckily for us the identity of this one has NOT been lost to posterity. It was called The Delicious, and was directed by (and starred) Scott Prendergast. In short, it’s about a man who becomes obsessed with a red pantsuit. You can watch it in two parts, right here on YouTube! I just did!
Now that that’s done, it’s time to live-review Before Sunrise, the first of old friend Denise Cook’s only two films ever shown at Cinema 1544. I’m already bracing myself for it, because I remember it being…terribly talky. I’m kind of worried about the live-review. “First they meet. Then they talk. Then they talk some more. They’re still talking!” It could get ugly. But here goes.
Oh, look! Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy! And…a bunch of extras, really. Right? There were TWO casting directors on this movie! How did that happen? For the love of all that is holy, there are only two characters WITH NAMES! And the movie starts in undubbed German, which at least demonstrates that Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, both on the same train car, don’t speak German. Uh-oh! They’ve just met, and they’re already saying clever things to each other! Welp, they’re going on a date to the lounge car! She’s a Sorbonne student returning to classes in Paris; he’s a wandering American loser, and they’re clearly hitting it off.
Ethan has to get off in Vienna to catch a plane out the next morning at 9:30. He’s planning to wander the city all night instead of getting a hotel, and he smoothly convinces Julie to come with, with no plans. Yep, they’re talking. After a while, they’re awkwardly listening to a record in a listening booth. Like, they’re totally falling for each other! Shy smiles! Metros! A bunny!
They kiss at sunset on a ferris wheel, which is a bit of a relief as there’s still a whole hour of the movie (and all night!) left and that tension just couldn’t hold forever. There’s a wandering palmist that does far less for the plot than the fortuneteller in Cleo From 5 To 7 (a film that, upon reflection, has more than a little to do with this one – at least in the third act). They get into their first little minor fight, which is broken up by a bum asking them for a word so that he can write them a poem for money. They choose “Milkshake”. He gives them a poem so long that I don’t think he could actually have moved the pencil quickly enough to fill the page it was on. But that’s still a really memorable scene – in fact the only specific bit I remembered from my first viewing of the film.
At some point in the evening, they start to explicitly come to grips with the fact that this really is their one and only night together (they don’t know about the sequel) and they gamely set off to merely enjoy the rest of the evening to the best of their ability. They do their best to do the whole “let’s be adults and acknowledge that we’re never going to see each other again” thing, but even so as her train is about to pull away they make plans to meet each other again, on Track 9 in Vienna, six months from that day. How does that work out? Well, you’ll have to watch the sequel. Or wait for its live review to come in, but that will definitely be dependent on the film actually showing up on cable.
You know, for the fact that it’s all talky and romancy and has no plot, it’s actually a pretty good movie. I guess that’s what you get when you’ve got a good screenwriter (though I will admit I didn’t really love Linklater’s Dazed and Confused).