02 June, 2013

Jesse & Celine (Reprise of Romance)

I watched Before Sunrise and Before Sunset in an unduly romantic double-feature fashion yesterday, while trying to escape some of this heat. It was most definitely a sweet escape, which ultimately surprised me. I had watched Before Sunrise back in 2010 with a good friend of mine, and we had found the story laughable and almost tragic. This gorgeous, intelligent woman seeming to ignore the imbecilic attempts at getting laid via pseudo-intellect from a greasy young man (young being the most important descriptor, I think). But I think we missed something on that first viewing – maybe having never experienced something like that night that ended in a true and non-predatory way. I mean, one time I met this attractive older Englishmen on a train, and he turned out to be a drunken philanderer who alternately showed me pictures of his two beautiful children and attempted to make out with me. Gross and disappointing.

What I'm trying to say is that I think sometimes you have to be able to step outside of your experience a bit to understand a movie. Maybe that is obvious. But even more so, with some great movies you just can't get them the way they ought to be understood until you've done a bit of growing yourself (or, a bit of strategic ungrowing). Before Sunrise might just be like those great books that you love upon first reading (around age 15, while innocence is still somewhat intact), find laughable upon second reading (in your early twenties, when you've dealt with some cads and feel the world is a bit more real and hard for you), but maybe love again when you've found yourself at a point where you can see how it could be true.

Part of why this movie resonates with me at this moment, is that I am in a great relationship where I wish we got more time to just wander around Vienna at night and talk. That would be more exciting and stimulating than most things I can think of, which alone brings some truth back to the romance depicted in Before Sunrise.

One interesting thing about this storyline is that it is perfectly placed in time. Jump ten years into the future and your two characters would have Facebook pages and internet trails, and even if they hadn't exchanged any information at the end of the movie, they most certainly would have crept on each others' internet imprints and possibly even drunkenly friended one another at a low point. This is the truth of this time: people are often cowardly about romance outside of a screen, and also bored enough for you to guess how they will be just as boring as everyone else. Jump ten years before the movie is set, and it would've been the mid-eighties. The pledges of undying love and early jumps into marriage and/or parenthood would have left the end of the movie sour with a stronger question about what these two characters gave up just to stay together physically. Instead, we have a linear time-capsule holding the promise and the disenchantment of the early nineties, followed by the semi-apocalyptic tendencies of the Bush era, and...what of the new movie – Before Midnight?

Despite the fact that it has been released (its trailer, combined with a Tavis Smiley interview I saw with Ethan Hawke prompted me to pick up the first two again), it is in limited release at the moment. I will most likely go to see it alone when it does come to my area. I just think that the relationship of Jesse and Celine is both one that deserves regular reprise and room to breathe in my own mind. I'm not going to guess about what the driving action of Before Midnight will be, as I am far more excited for the Linklater-esque filming of entire conversations between two close people. That seemingly untouched connection is what is so captivating about these films. The magic of two people meeting and really getting each other. I hope that is made only a bit sweeter, darker, and more complex by their aging together in Before Midnight.

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