Jesse & Celine & Nina Simone
July 20, 2004 6:27 AM   Subscribe

Just in time, you’ve found me just in time. Richard Linklater, like Wong Kar-wai, is a lyrical and elegiac filmmaker. In many of his films, as in many of Wong's (and as in Ming-liang Tsai's What Time Is It There?), the subject is time -- the romance and poetry of moments ticking by, the wonder and anguish of living through and then remembering an hour or a day. In 1995 Linklater made Before Sunrise, the story of the chance encounter of two strangers (an American young man and a French young woman) on a European train and their sleepless night in Vienna. Now ten years have passed, and they meet again in Paris: they -- and the audience -- only have 80 minutes to make up for the time they lost, Before Sunset. Linklater's new film, shot in uncut Steadycam takes (the longest clocks in at 11 minutes), in a sense is about how we create selves just by talking. But it’s also about how we become prisoners of time. Towards the end of the movie, Celine, sitting in the backseat of a car with Jesse, starts to caress his head while he isn't looking, then suddenly pulls back, and that simple curtailed gesture carries in it a sense of tragedy, the consequence of the weight of time... (more inside, with Nina Simone)
posted by matteo (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
...yet competing with that weight is the volatile lightness of the dangerous present -- the rush of passing minutes that keeps the characters and us suspended in hope. Linklater's refusal to let go of this scary promise, even when the movie comes to an end, is a true masterstroke -- and, thinks Jonathan Rosenbaum, "one of the most perfect endings of any film that comes to mind" (it does involve a Nina Simone recording of Just in Time, after all).
posted by matteo at 6:29 AM on July 20, 2004

the movie, of course, already came out in the US and will open on Friday in the UK. Less fortunate continental Europeans will have to wait until the fall
posted by matteo at 6:32 AM on July 20, 2004

Linklater, who wrote the script with his actors, is thinking about shooting another movie with Delpy and Hawke in ten years' time, to see what happened to them -- just like a certain European director liked to follow his favorite character through the years of the character's life. Me, I'd love to see Celine and Jesse finally getting together when they're old and grey and full of sleep, a love in the time of cholera if there ever was one -- "I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and ever-lasting love."
posted by matteo at 6:37 AM on July 20, 2004

So much has been written about this film I am almost afraid to see it for fear of being completely let down.
posted by shoepal at 6:42 AM on July 20, 2004

I enjoyed Before Sunrise, though it was emminently forgettable. In fact, I had forgotten all about it until I started seeing the trailers for Before Sunset.

Before Sunset was simply boring. I simply didn't care anymore about these two people.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:44 AM on July 20, 2004

But almost everybody else I know who saw it, loved it, so it is probably just me. But for whatever reason I didn't connect with it.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:45 AM on July 20, 2004

I think the movie's great, with a pitch-perfect ending, and it's going to be a milestone for the aging slacker generation (or whatever we're called, I forget.) My girl Marcy has a review, too.

Bonus: get your Nina Shirt from Ropeadope!
posted by muckster at 6:54 AM on July 20, 2004

I enjoyed Before Sunrise and still nurse a major crush on Julie Delpy, but we're discussing Linklater and no love for the greatest high school movie in history? Now, there's a sequel waiting to be made.
posted by jonmc at 7:16 AM on July 20, 2004

jon, I'm not allowed to name names, but a MeFi user does appear -- however briefly -- in Slacker
posted by matteo at 7:21 AM on July 20, 2004

Does the movie make any sense if you didn't see the first one? Hell, since this is Linklater we're talking about, does it make any sense at all?

Slacker only serves to remind me of why we should give Texas back to Mexico.
posted by Jart at 7:26 AM on July 20, 2004

i like that richard linklater exists -- he makes good, thought-provoking movies that are both fun and full of substance, and appeal to a wider audience than the work of many other filmmakers. imo he's more successful at making challenging and engaging mainstream films than someone like charlie kaufman, who's just trying to be weird.

that said: as much as i like that richard linklater exists, as much as i like some of his films, i can't bring myself to see before sunrise or its sequel. see, ethan hawke puts my teeth on edge, and the thought of spending five minutes in the man's presence gives me the heebie jeebies...never mind ninety minutes. this is all the more julie delpy for you, matteo. ;)
posted by pxe2000 at 7:27 AM on July 20, 2004

And in other longitudinal news, Michael Apted's 49 and Up should be out next year. Imagine following your subjects through 7 films over 40 years.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:49 AM on July 20, 2004

posted by troutfishing at 8:05 AM on July 20, 2004

After loving Dazed and Confused and Slacker and SubUrbia I decided to rent Before Sunrise. What a disappointment. I forced a friend to watch it with me, and he still hasn't forgiven me, a good six or seven years later.

OTOH, the scene with these two characters in Waking Life was extremely well done, and there seemed to be some real chemistry between the actors. So I'm looking forward to seeing Before Sunset someday on DVD (entirely because of this amazing FPP), but with nowhere near the level of anticipation I feel for A Scanner Darkly.
posted by jbrjake at 8:22 AM on July 20, 2004

Why don't you just link to the MetaCritic listing for Before Sunset, instead of posting all the links here?
posted by rocketman at 9:26 AM on July 20, 2004

I'll only go see it if the characters finally go see the play "Bring Me the Horns of Wilmington's Cow". I've been waiting ten years to see what it's actually like!
posted by filmgoerjuan at 9:28 AM on July 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

Don't see Before Sunset if you haven't seen Before Sunrise. I don't think it's meant to stand on its own.

I love the dialogue in these films. My interpretation is that all that talking is a product of (fictional) nervousness especially on his side. Silences are terrifying so they both talk, sometimes almost babble, to fill the time and keep the connection going. Or maybe I'm just projecting because I do this :-).

Oh and Julie Delpy is impossibly beautiful.
posted by Voivod at 10:12 AM on July 20, 2004

Anyone know which live album that version of "Just In Time" comes from?
posted by gsh at 10:42 AM on July 20, 2004

Voivod, I don't agree that you have to see the first film in order to get the new one. I hardly remembered "Before Sunrise" at all, and everything you need to know is laid out in the first few minutes, complete with brief glimpses of young Ethan & Julie.

And YES, A Scanner Darkly has me very excited. The cast, Philip K Dick, and the Waking Life rotoscoping (last seen in The Five Obstructions) sound like a fantastic combination.
posted by muckster at 11:03 AM on July 20, 2004

I was lucky to see both films on the same day last month when they played at SIFF. However, we were unlucky in that Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy were all unable to get to town for the gala showing/event.

Seeing Sunrise is not needed to enjoy Sunset, although it certainly makes the experience more enjoyable. But to de-hype it somewhat, Sunset is not a movie that will likely blow you away. It's short (under 90 minutes), subtle, and less action-packed than Sunrise. Don't get me wrong though, I love both of them and think people should see both.

Interestingly, among full-series SIFF passholders who rated the film, males apparently liked Before Sunrise more than females (Guy Films vs. Gal Films). Maybe it's the Delpy factor.

Me, I'd love to see Celine and Jesse finally getting together when they're old and grey and full of sleep

You might want to check out Innocence (from 2000). It's a romance involving two old people who meet up again after a lengthy break from each other. It's more of a standard drama than Sunrise/Sunset could ever be, but definitely worth a view. (Ebert review)
posted by gluechunk at 2:47 PM on July 20, 2004

julie delpy is divoon. in the gesture described in the fpp, the first mental image that came into my head was that of the radiant ms delpy removing a very large nit from the back of his head, then thinking better of it.

hey, it could happen.

matteo, you know i like you. please take this in the spirit of snarky fun.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:17 PM on July 20, 2004

I love Linklater's movies. I haven't seen this one, but I'm looking forward to finding out if I still love the characters as much as I did when I saw the first one.
posted by dejah420 at 7:59 PM on July 20, 2004

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