Before Sunset and Casablanca are the two movies that I have watched the most number of times. They share a lot of qualities which makes them dear to me - Brilliant individual performances, sharp dialogue and of course both are beautiful love stories.
The majority of the sequels made, stem from a pure commercial interest. And usually occurs within a few years of the original to take advantage of the energy generated. Very few of them are created from a genuine need to revisit the lives of the characters. Before Sunset is one such movie.
Before I talk about these two beautiful movies, let me give you suggestion. Don't watch these movies back to back (It can be very tempting once you finish Before Sunrise). Wait a day and let the first movie sink in and let the anticipation build. It will certainly enhance the pleasure. Hey, rest of the movie goers waited nine years. You can certainly wait 24 hours :)
Before Sunrise (1995)
This is the first installment. It signalled the arrival of a talented director - Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Slacker, School of Rock). It also was one of our initial glimpses of the incredibly beautiful and talented Julie Delpy.
The movie is set in the beautiful streets of Vienna. It is the story of how Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Celine (Delpy) on a train to Vienna. He convinces her to make a detour from her journey to Paris. And how the few hours they spend together changes their lives forever.
I know I am being very vague. But mentioning anything more will take away from your movie watching experience.
My favorite line - "If there's any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed, but... who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt."
My favorite scene - When Jesse and Celine are standing inside the listening booth in a record store. Watch for the body language. It will bring a smile to your lips.
Before Sunset (2004)
This is my favorite of the two. While the first movie is driven by the passion and exuberance of youth, the second is grounded in reality but lined with the yearning to breakaway.
The movie is set in Paris and nine years have passed since Jesse and Celine first met (The actual movie releases are also spaced the same way). The beauty of the movie is that it is set in real life - i.e; the length of the movie (77 min) is same as the timespan of the events depicted.
There are so many beautiful nuances in the movie which I want to talk about. But it is tough to go into them without spoiling it for y'all.
My favorite line - "Memories are wonderful things, if you don't have to deal with the past."
My favorite scene - The cab ride that Jesse and Celine share from the docks of the Seine to Celine's apartment. So intense and beautiful.
And the use of Nina Simone's music in the movie is an added bonus. Watch for some lovely shots on the Seine.
The chemistry between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy is mind blowing. They actually co-wrote the script for the second movie. Julie Delpy is of course the superior of the two. She portrays that beautiful blend of fierce independence and vulnerability with hardly any effort.
And to add a slight warning, these are two movies which are not suitable for passive watching. The intricacies of the body language, the background score, the beautiful dialogue and the fabulous cinematography demand your full attention. Do yourself a favor and give that to it. And you'll be thankful that you did.
If you are a man or woman, who uses his/her head for something other than poking under a hair dryer, you will appreciate the way how these movies show that human emotions are not colors splashed across a canvas. They are more like the gentle outlines that provide the definitions to who we really are.