Archive for the ‘Before Sunrise’ Category
“… and so they lived happily together for the rest of their lives.”
This was the way fairy tales used to end when I grew up, way before Disney realized that girls actually dream of other things than marriage.
Nowadays I find most love stories with happy endings quite unbearable. Is there anything more boring than to see a couple wrapped up in their own little bubble of happiness? They obviously don’t care for anything but themselves. Why should I care about them?
The movie bloggers in Sweden run a blogathon every month and the theme of February was “love”. (I suspect that the upcoming Valentines’s Day might have something to do with this).
And the more I thought about the topic, the more I realized how dark I want my love movies to be.
You have to push me hard to come up with a love movie with a happy loving couple that I truly love. I suppose there are a few in Love Actually, but my favourite one in that movie is the miserable guy who communicates his unfulfilled love with cards. Then there’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is a bit in-between and not very clear about the prospects of the future. One of my favourite love couples in a movie last year was Only Lovers Left Alive. If you think about it, their relationship is pretty great. But their overall life situation isn’t.
So let’s have a look at my current favourite movie couples:
6. Brief Encounter
There isn’t much physical contact between Laura and Dr Alec during their brief encounters at a railway station café. But this means that every little touch will mean something. Oh, that touch on the shoulder – immensely more erotic than any intercourse possibly could be. The impossible love is the sweetest one.
5. Brokeback Mountain
Ennis and Jack. Do I really need to say anything? Isn’t this the most heart breaking love movie ever?
4. The Bridges of Madison County
Robert and Fransesca – competing with Brokeback mountain for the title “Most tear provoking love movie ever). It’s a shame that it appears so rarely on people’s top lists.
3. Lost in Translation
I’m not entirely sure of the nature of the relationship between Charlotte and Bob, what to make of the food holding scene and exactly what words that were uttered in their final meeting. Regardless what, they’re my favourite platonic love couple evs.
2. The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton and Mr Stevens. Every time I watch this movie I can’t help hoping that you’ll step out of your comfort zones, cross the barriers and confess your love to each other. Miracles DO happen, right?
1. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight
Oh, Jessie. Oh, Celine. Unlike most couples on my top list, you aren’t doomed. Your relationship is worth saving, though it will require some effort. Please, please give it a try!
Separation, yearning, death and disaster, misery and melancholy. There you are, my favourite ingredients for love movies. And all movie kisses are overrated, unless they’re performed in a sense of danger and desperation.
Here are the takes on love in movies by my fellow bloggers (in Swedish):
I’ve never understood the idea of silent compartments on trains. Isn’t that the most boring of places? People there are missing one of the points of travelling: to overhear other people’s conversations.
Most people say that they hate that. I’m just the opposite. I love it. Sometimes it beats going to the movies. If you only care to listen, there are some excellent pieces of drama played up right there, in front of you. It’s an exclusive performance – played only one time, with the smallest of audiences. Speaking of exclusivity!
I would go as far as to say that I even enjoy listening to phone conversations, which others generally seem to hate. I think they tickle my imagination.
When you only hear half of what’s said, you can work on your skills as a screenwriter filling out the rest. What I like most of all is how cell phones seem to have this magical impact on people’s normal sense of privacy and integrity. All of a sudden nothing is too private or sensitive to share with an audience. For someone who is hopelessly curious about the lives of other people, especially the ones of complete strangers, it’s a treat.
Equally I’ve never understood why there’s so much hating on movies with a lot of talking.
If I get it right, the general idea is that it’s better to show than to tell. The audience is supposed take in the atmosphere and study the faces and body language of the people on the screen, reading their minds rather than listening to their lines. The less people say the better. Cinematography > words, appears to be the general consensus.
But for me it’s the same thing as with the train compartments. I don’t mind listening to long conversations in a movie. On the contrary: I absolutely love it. At least as long as the writing is good, as it is in Before Sunrise, which I finally got around to see the other day.
Over and over again has this film been brought to my attention by regular blog guests. People whose judgment I trust on urged me to watch it since they knew I would like it. Finally I ran out of excuses about not having access to it when it turned out that I could buy it online for just a handful of dollars. So I watched it and it turned out that they were completely right, as so many times before.
The story in this film is simple: boy meets girl. Two strangers start to talk on a train and hook up for one night in Vienna. They fall in love, briefly, despite, or perhaps because of the fact that they might never meet again. The next day they’ll continue on their temporary interrupted journeys, heading in different directions, geographically and in their lives. This is the one and only night they’ll ever get. So they talk and talk and talk and stroll in romantic settings and kiss their way through the night until it’s time to say goodbye.
It is simple, but a movie doesn’t necessarily improve with complexity.
And of course I loved to see this couple falling in love, with equal measures of bitterness and sweetness. I loved to hear them talking about life, the universe and everything. I loved how natural and young and unspoiled they appeared, mercilessly reminding me of how middle-aged and jaded I am. For good and for bad.
It reminded me a little bit of Lost in Translation in the way it captured the magic of travelling: the accidental meetings, the sense of being on the way to a yet-to-be-determined future and the glimpses of self discovery.
Allowing some time
If I ever was to make a top ten list over my favorite romance movies I’m pretty certain that Before Sunrise would stand a good chance to appear on it.
I’ve been told that the sequel, Before Sunset, is even better and I can’t wait to find out this is true. I suspect it might resonate even more with me since the characters have grown a bit older and closer to me in age and life experiences.
But before proceeding I’ll give Before Sunrise some time to mature and sink in. The people who watched it as it came out had nine years to digest it. I should at least spend a few days with it lingering in my mind before diving into the next piece of conversation.
Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, US, 1995) My rating: 5/5