Before Sunrise

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Ten years ago, I wasn’t really sure what to think of Ethan Hawke. He’s been in some good movies (both before and after this), but was he just another twenty-something has been or did he have what it took to really stay around for a while? I loved “Dead Poet’s Society”, “Alive” and “Reality Bites” plays like a snapshot of my life – mirrored by the characters in that movie. Honestly, I’d heard very little about “Before Sunrise” until only recently. I knew Richard Linklater (“Dazed and Confused”, “Slacker” and “Waking Life”) had directed it, but it wasn’t until the sequel (of sorts) came out that I decided to take a look at this. As it turns out, this too has several elements that I can identify with – though oddly enough more now than then. I’ll start off by saying that this movie won’t be for everybody. Movies with a lot of dialogue (and this has plenty), often alienate their audiences and no matter how interesting the characters are, it’s hard to sustain interest in anything or anybody for the course of a movie with just dialogue. However, I blinked and the closing credits were rolling. The time went by as fast as it did for the characters on screen.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play Jessie and Celiste respectively. He’s been riding the Eurorail after saving up his money that Spring to go visit his girlfriend. After a few days, he gets the hint that she has moved on and he gets a cheaper flight and has seen the European countryside through the window of a train. He’s on his way to Vienna where his flight will leave the next day, only to meet Celiste by accident. They begin to talk about life, love and everything in between when he persuades her to get off the train and continue their discussion while wandering the steets of Vienna. “I don’t have enough for a hotel room” he says “so I planned to wander the streets of Vienna”. She reluctantly accepts (though we learn later that she wanted to all along) and a beautiful friendship starts to form. The upside to this is that the two have each other, but the downside being it’s only for one night. She’s back on her way to the Sorbonne in Paris and it’s likely that the two will never see each other again after thier night together. This is a point brought up in perhaps the most emotional moment of the movie.

What’s so great about the film is that the characters make it work. How many times in life have we looked back and said “I wonder what would have happened if…”. Well, these two seem to know what they have and have the instinct to go with their feelings. We know that no matter how good something is, nothing lasts forever and neither does this night. No matter who you’re with and how much you enjoy their company, the clock ticks the same for every living thing. As the night begins to turn in to day, we don’t want the characters to leave each other. They don’t want to leave each other. They kiss. They have sex. They converse on the same ferris wheel that Joesph Cotten and Orsen Welles did in “The Third Man”. Truly, as an audience member, we can see that these two have something, but do they want to pursue it? He lives in America and she in Paris and by her own admission is afraid of flying (which is why she took the train back to Paris). The movie ends letting the audience decide…but the questions might be answered in the newly-released “Before Sunset”. This is truly a gem and worthy of any collection.

Video: How does it look?

“Before Sunrise” is a Castle Rock title (distributed by Warner) and has a full-frame and an anamorphic widescreen version included on the disc. I was rather surprised how good the transfer was, considering the low budget this movie had. The film is just about ten years old and though some scenes seem a bit soft, others look crystal clear. Flesh tones seem warm and natural with little or no edge enhancement or artifacting to get in the way. A bit of dirt on the print (in some scenes) does little to detract from the picturesque scenery of Vienna. Not a perfect transfer, but there are far worse.

Audio: How does it sound?

As expected, the Dolby Surround mix is the only one included on the disc. This makes perfect sense, though, seeing as how 95% of the movie is dialogue. I don’t recall hearing the surrounds kick in except during the opening scene in which some classical music is played. The dialogue is very well-centered, sounding clean and natural throughout. There’s not much more that can be said (no pun intended), as the audio delivers.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unfortunately, the only supplement is the theatrical trailer. With “Before Sunset” in theaters now, perhaps they’ll see fit to relase a Special Edition of this movie when the sequel hits DVD later this year. Until then, this will have to suffice.

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