Richard Linklater's 'Before' Trilogy is considered by many critics to be his crowning achievement as a filmmaker. A perfect representation of love split across three movies. Falling, reconnecting, and staying, respectively. Linklater is a filmmaker I wish I was more familiar with. I'm a big fan of School of Rock, I appreciated Boyhood, and I vaguely remember Dazed and Confused. I figured this would be a good place to start, and Before Sunrise is quite a realistic, well-told love story. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are fantastic together. I wholly believed their romance. Having not yet seen Sunset or Midnight, I can't speak for the trilogy as a whole. But this first installment is a delight.
On a train moving through Europe, thanks to the loud argument of a German couple, Jesse (Hawke) meets Celine (Delpy) and the two hit it off immediately. They talk about life and what brought them both to this train, and then Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train with him in Vienna and explore the city with him before his flight back to America in the morning. During the course of this magical night, Jesse and Celine fall in love and dissect the nature of love, relationships, and what they both want out of their lives. They're both fairly young, roughly college age, and are both unsure of who they want to be. All they know is life must be special because it brought the two of them together. My only gripe with the film is that Jesse is kind of a pretentious douche at first, but that starts to erode away once he and Celine realize what they have is real.
I've no doubt Before Sunrise is the first act in a gorgeous story of love that won't be stopped. Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy all outdo themselves with just this first film, and I'm itching to continue Jesse and Celine's story. I think some of the dialogue is Linklater trying a little too hard to be smart, what with Jesse quoting various writers and theories. But it makes sense for the character, so I'll let it slide. After all, I'm a sucker for a good love story.