Saturday, February 14, 2015

Before Sunset

Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet again, this time in Paris which serves as the last stop of his book tour. Married and now a father of one, he has made a bestseller out of that one night in Vienna. She, on the other hand, has studied in New York, finished her master’s degree in Paris, and even volunteered in India for a while. This is their first meeting in nine years, and another chance encounter at that. He did fulfill his promise to meet her again in Vienna in December of 1994, but she was not able to make it because her grandmother died and was buried on the very same day. What starts off as catching up digresses to mini debates regarding the current state of the world, but eventually leads to talking about what could have been and what should have been had they met again six months after their first encounter. He is, once again, hounded by limited time and the plane he has to catch before sunset. Would rekindling the old flames be enough for him to miss his flight this time around?

The sequel follows the same format as the first movie in that it is just full of witty and very opinionated dialogues, but what makes them more enjoyable this time around are the subtle hints of regret as well as eagerness to seize the opportunity for a second chance. Here is a potential couple who have not met each other for almost a decade. Their lives are different now, but the very same brand of escapism is still evident in both of them. The circumstances are the same, but their level of maturity and the respective realities that they are now living have just upped the ante.

There are moments in this sequel which makes you feel as though you are watching a long music video, except that it is devoid of music but overflowing with thoughts. The film lasts for two hours but you would not really feel it as you immerse yourself in the verbal joust in which these two participate. As they are constantly moving, you feel like you are getting a free walking tour of Paris yourself while catching up with two old friends you last met almost ten years ago.

It must have been a different kind of high for those who actually saw the first movie back in 1995, and then watched this sequel almost ten years later. Just like Jesse and Celine, you are also curious as to what took place in that span of time when they should have been together, if things turned out differently. In effect, each revelation is laced with both excitement and shock, trying to summarize almost a decade of life’s events in the short span of two hours or so.

The film is open ended and we never really get to know if Jesse intentionally misses his flight this time. The stakes are higher as they were before because now he has a family to abandon and she has a relationship to break if ever he decides to miss that plane. While most people would want them to end up together, one must not forget that no matter how realistic this film wants itself to be, the manner by which the events unfold is just a bit too contrived and conveniently made as such for you to root for that kind of ending. If you just try to see beneath all the sexual tension and plot convenience, you would begin to realize how complicated the situation really is.

But then again, the beauty of this franchise would always be with the reflections that the characters say out loud, most of which are grounded on a reality to which everyone can elate. In the span of two hours they talk about a lot of things involving relationships, 
contentment in life, careers, and all that jazz.

A decade ago, they were young adults who seemed lost. A decade later, they are indeed matured adults now, but just as lost as they were back then. This makes you want to believe that that certain feeling would always linger as long as you are alive, but the good news is that as you get to collect more experiences in life you then tend to gain a better understanding of what really works for you. And sometimes, that is all that matters, right?

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