Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995)

When it comes to chronicling the ephemeral, Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise falls somewhere in between the spiritual heights of the transcendental school of cinema and stark, neo-realistic accounts of the mundane. Leaning towards romantic precepts of destiny but never moving beyond the everyday frankness of conversation, Before Sunrise is more affecting than many of its imitators, many of them great, even as it comes close to outdoing its most obvious predecessors, Vincente Minnelli’s The Clock and Leo McCarey’s Love Affair, by depicting the love between its protagonists as evanescent rather than something to be instantly recognized and carved in stone forever. As in the aforementioned films (and the third act of McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow), Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s daylong sojourn in Vienna is a catalogue of kind strangers and evocative places and uneasy wistfulness, and these beautiful elements in harmony with the character-enriching dialogue transform the film from a self-contained romance into a breathtaking ode to love in transit.

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