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Before Sunrise

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Before Sunrise

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Director: Richard Linklater
Rated: R
RunTime: 101 Minutes
Release Date: January 1995
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Andrea Eckert, Dominik Castel, Hanno Poschl, Karl Bruckschwarger, Tex Rubinowitz

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

BEFORE SUNRISE is a romantic talkfest. It celebrates the joy of conversation between two people who have just met and who are rapidly becoming enraptured with each other's conversation and presence.

It is a two character movie featuring Julie Delpy (last seen in WHITE) and Ethan Hawke. They play two people in their 20s who meet on a European train. The movie happens almost in real time since it all takes place in less than 24 hours. The movie has a realness to it that approaches almost a documentary feel. This is not surprising since it was written and directed by Richard Linklater whose first movie was the black and white avant-garde SLACKER. BEFORE SUNRISE, on the other hand, is a main stream movie albeit one with a wonderfully fresh approach.

Hawke is an American who speaks only English. It opens with him listening to a couple arguing in German on a train from Hungary. He wonders what they are talking about. As one who has traveled on trains where I was constantly overhearing conversations in languages I knew little of, this was so familiar. At any rate, he meets a French woman (Delpy) who speaks excellent English and with whom he strikes up a fascinating conversation.

They talk about everything as the script is written bright, interesting, and extremely natural. Many lines were worth remembering. When they are discussing the fighting German couple Delpy says she read that as people get older men can no longer hear high notes and women low notes, and this mean they lose their ability to communicate. Hawke says that they are sort of canceling each other out and maybe nature did this as a way to keep older married couples from killing each other.

Hawke convinces Delpy to get off the train in Vienna with him and spend the day and night with him wandering the city until his plane leaves the next morning. The scene of him asking her to go with him is precious. His logic is beautiful and his body language perfect. I could see this scene again and again. The train part is the first 10 minutes of the movie, and the rest is their adventure in Vienna.

If you love trains and Vienna, as I do, this movie will be a special treat for you. You get to see the Prater amusement park, the Opera House, Demels coffee house, and many other landmarks, but the movie is no travelogue; it is about conversations and romance. Notice, I said romance as in infatuation and kissing. Whether anything more transpires between them, you will have to see the show. The scenes where they discuss how far to take their friendship that evening are natural, honest, and a lot of fun to eavesdrop on. Through out the show, I laughed out loud many times at the sort of natural things that can happen in romantic conversation.

What would I change about the show? Almost nothing. I do think I would have him lose that goatee. It was too 50s beatnik looking.

The acting was terrific. It was easy to identify with the characters, and you certainly cared a lot about both of them. You really wonder when you leave the show what are they doing now and then you pinch yourself and remember that it was fiction. The largest amount of credit has to go to the writer/director who was confident enough of his script and cast to let the two leads just talk constantly for the entire movie.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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