Before Sunrise Screen 7 articles

Before Sunrise

1995

Before Sunrise Poster
  • Revisiting this was uncannily like looking back on my own fresh-faced youth, with all the nostalgia-tinged affection and regret that such an endeavor would suggest. More than that, though, the subsequent Before films retroactively make Sunrise seem much richer than it did when it was apparently a stand-alone project.

  • Richard Linklater goes Hollywood—triumphantly and with an overall intelligence, sweetness, and romantic simplicity that reminds me of wartime weepies like The Clock... Linklater's tact in handling such potentially mawkish material is as evident in what he leaves out as in what he includes, and if Hawke sometimes seems a mite doltish and preening, Delpy is a consistent delight. Kim Krizan collaborated with Linklater on the script, which abounds in lively dialogue and imaginative digressions.

  • The characters of Before Sunrise begin their trip with the expectation of making a memory to be savored, and knowing what we know on a second or 22nd viewing—that their promises to meet again are permanently suspended by the termination of the narrative—it is we who live out that memory as our experience of the film.

  • Before Sunrise is, perhaps inadvertently and just by being an honest, self-conscious reflection of twentysomething life, a film about the need for self-definition, and perhaps the best document of a particular form of aspirational nineties American youth culture, regardless of the fact that it’s set in Europe.

  • More so than any screen romance I know, BEFORE SUNRISE exalts the pliability of gender roles and records a desperate, joyous urge to inhabit another person's consciousness... When Delpy sits in a restaurant, leans into her imaginary telephone, and belches, "Hey dude, what's up?," we're witnessing one of the most quietly utopian moments in movies.

  • When one looks back on a relationship, it is not usually the “plot” of it that remains. It is the small sensory things, how the person smelled, how the person’s eyes crinkled up when laughing, the way the light was that night of the first kiss. The tangible intangibles. Before Sunrise gets that right on a cellular level only through its devotion to details, to behavior, to the simple act of listening and talking, to the silences that open up when things start to get serious.

  • It was all too easy to dismiss at the time as just another Generation X romantic comedy. (Many critics did.) A closer look reveals just how astute it is as a portrait of youth in all its insecurity and hopefulness. The ritual of courtship is all about self-presentation, and as with most tales of new love, backstory moves into the foreground. But the script locates its tension and drama not just in what their protagonists reveal about themselves but, more crucially, in when and how.

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