Monday, April 7, 2014

A ROMANTIC Trilogy Review

A Trilogy Review
Before Sunrise
Before Sunset
Before Midnight

I'm not a film reviewer but I know what I like.  Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight are three films I like -- A LOT!  

This trilogy (which I watched on are set nine years apart with the first, Before Sunrise,  taking place in 1995 (the other two in 2004 and 2013), stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  Both sequels also star the same two actors.  All scenes are filmed in Europe and in spite of being low budget films ($3 million or less) feature luscious cinematography and amazingly talented acting.

Unlike most "sequels", these three movies are true sequels in that are all part of the same story.  The films follow the relationship between the two characters, Jessie and Celine, who meet unexpectantly on a train and spend an evening together in Vienna before Jesse needs to leave Europe to return to the US.  Each film is a "slice of life" for these two -- all are unabashably romantic and feature a modern look at "love".  There is little action in any of the films other than walking and the dialogue.  And it's in the dialogue the genius of these films is shown.  The audience is sucked into the heads of Jessie and Celine and becomes a part of the world they create.  The scenery, the music, the discourse all blend together into some of the most intense film making I have ever seen.

Rotten Tomatoes, the well-known film review aggregator, has rated these three films at 100%, 95% and 98% respectively, indicating universal acclaim for these low budget, amazingly effective movies.  Several reviewers have rated Before Midnight as the second best film in 2013 with Gravity taking the top spot.  Like Sandra Bullock's performance in Gravity, the intensity of the characters here is what carries these films sans the physical drama and special effects Bullock experienced in Gravity. Indeed, Before Midnight was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013.

The three films are intelligent, witty and poignant.  At times they are melancholic.  At no time is there a "he-man" or a submissive woman.  There is a natural chemistry between Hawke and Delpy and the storyline is nothing less than genius. Other than a few "f-bombs", mild cussing, and one sequence showing Delpy's breasts, there is none of the stark and vivid sexual or violent scenes so often seen in modern cinema.  For older teens or adults, these three films will work for most.  I watched them back to back and the about 5 total hours was unnoticed and I left the films with a definite desire to see them again.  

For anyone looking to see film making at its finest and willing to invest the time to become a part of Jessie's and Celine's world, I highly HIGHLY recommend these three. AND, I suppose I am willing to wait ANOTHER nine years to see what happens to these two characters (but I wish it would happen a whole lot sooner).

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