Saturday, November 27, 2004

[Film] Before I talk about Before Sunset …

The tension I found in Before Sunrise was that even a single misstep in their conversation, one comment taken the wrong way could ruin their fragile developing romance.

In Before Sunset, the stakes are even higher. There’s a marriage, children, failed relationships and mutual blame. That scene in the rental car where Jesse and Celine just vent at each other about how holding on to their night in Vienna ruined their lives, … well, I was crying during it. *

But this time round, I didn’t focus on their conversation. I was more interested in the rising sexual tension. In this respect, the film shared a similar appeal to Lost in Translation; don’t watch on what they’re doing or saying, but how they’re acting round each other. It’s the subtext that’s fascinating.

And anyway, the film’s not about 2 strangers getting to know each other. At a dialogue level, it’s simply re-establishing that Jesse and Celine can talk this deeply with each other. What's really at stake is the conflict - between their growing attraction and the revelations about their lives since 'that night'.

Before Sunrise’s ambiguous ending kept me wondering for 8 years, but all it asks is: will they meet again? At the end of Before Sunset, there are 2 variables: Will they sleep together now? And after that, will they continue seeing each other? The script-writers (Ethan, Julie and Richard) are asking us whether we think these characters are willing to fundamentally change their lives.

So what do I think they do?

Well, I think it’s a given that they are in some sort of love. That they know what love feels like, they know it can damage you, and they know there’s a cost.

But I don’t know what they do. I don’t even think I want to know what I think about what they do, yet. … But I suspect they sleep together, and I hope they try and make a go of it … but I also hope that if there’s a sequel in 10 years time, it’s not about a tumultuous conversation centering around the day of their divorce. Maybe that’s why both these movies work. They suggest the possibility of how great the relationship could be without going into the day-to-day.

* I’ll give some more thought to why I loved the car scene – but the fact that I idealise Before Sunset the way they idealise their night together probably has something to do with it.

1 comment:

Jenni said...

I also love that car scene. It made me cry with the truth of it.

I don't particularly idealise the first movie though, to me it's about the whole ideal of romance itself and the impact it has on the choices we make.

I was pretty shaken after seeing this movie and made Lee take me to a cafe for pancakes.