Monday, January 2, 2017

Before Trilogy

After all these years, I finally watched Richard Linklater's Before trilogy. I'm so glad I just saw those movies now, as I can appreciate each movie with my 30-something/almost-40 wisdom.

Before Sunrise
1995 | Director: Richard Linklater | 1 hour 41 minutes |

In this movie, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) are in their 20s, 23 years old to be precise. A fateful meeting onboard of Eurorail, Jesse going to Vienna while Celine going to Paris, they decide to hop off in Vienna and explore the city before the sun arises. They are aware that they may not be able to meet again after the night, so they spend the time getting to know each other.

As they walk through the city, both Jesse and Celine express their opinions on love, relationship and feelings, fear of death, their parents' parenting styles (Jesse's parents are divorced, while Celine's parents are happily married), and feminism.

J: You know what drives me crazy? People talking about how great technology is, how it saves the time. But what good is saved time if nobody uses it? If it just turns into more busy work.
J: I kind of see love as this escape for two people who don't know how to be alone... People always say how love is unselfish and giving thing. But if you think about it, there's nothing more selfish..
J: You know what's the worst thing about somebody breaking up with you? It's when you remember how little you thought about the people you broke up with and you realize that that is how little they're thinking of you. You'd like to think that you're both in pain, but really, they're just,"Hey, I'm glad you're gone.
J: Sometimes I dream about being a good husband and a good father, and sometimes it feels very close. But then other times it seems silly, like it would ruin my whole life. It's not a fear of commitment or I'm incapable of loving because I can. It's just if I'm totally honest with myself, I think I'd rather die knowing that I was really good at something. That I had excelled in some ways than that I'd been in a nice, caring relationship.
C: I believe if there's any kind of God, it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me, but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really.
Before saying good bye to Celine, Jesse reads a poem by W.H. Auden

All the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time

In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

This movie was not really shot inline with the movie sequence, but it has made me missing Vienna so much! Jesse and Celine take trams passing Votivkirche, listen to Kath Bloom's vinyl in a record store, stroll at Marie-Theresien Platz that is flanked by the Kunsthistorische-Naturhistorische Museums, watch sunset from Prater's ferris wheel, and Danube riverbanks. You can read more about the places in Vienna visited by this couple in this link.

Before Sunset
2004 | Director: Richard Linklater | 1 hour 20 minutes |

Nine years after Jesse and Celine met, they reunited during the French leg of Jesse's book tour, which is written based on their first encounter. Both Jesse and Celine are in their 30s. Jesse is already married with one child, while Celine is still unmarried and in a relationship with a war photographer.

While both are already in relationship/serious commitment, both are not happy with their situation.  Ah, c'est la vie. Here are some excerpts of their conversation as they walk through the City of Light.

C: I was thinking. For me it's better I don't romanticize things as much anymore. I was suffering so much all the time. I still have lots of dreams but they're not in regard to my love life. It does not make me said, it's just the way it is.
J: Is that why you're in a relationship with somebody who's never around?
C: Yes, obviously I can't deal with the day-to-day life of a relationship. Yeah, we have this exciting time together and he leaves and I miss him, but at least I'm not dying inside. When someone is always around me, I'm suffocating.
J: No wait, you just said that you need to love and be loved
C: Yes, but when I do it makes me nauseous. It's a disaster. I mean I'm really happy when I'm on my own. Even being alone, it's better than sitting next to a lover and feeling lonely. It's not so easy for me to be a romantic
C: It's funny, every single of my exes, they're married. Men go out with me, we break up and then they get married. And later they call me to thank me for teaching them what love is and that I taught them to care and respect for women.
J: I think I'm one of those...
C: I want to kill them. Why didn't they ask me? I would have said no, but they could have asked. I know it's my fault because I never felt it was the right man. Never. But what does it mean the right man, the love of your life? The concept is absurd. We can only be complete with another person.
C: Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to get you. I mean, all I need is a married man. There's been so much water under the bridge, it's not even about you. It's about that moment in time that's forever gone.
J: You know, I want a great life. I want her to have a great life, she deserves that. But we're just living in the pretense of marriage, responsibility, you know, all these ideas of how people are supposed to live
J: My wife is there looking at me, and I feel I'm a million miles from her. And I know that there's something wrong, that..God, that I can't keep living like this, that there's gotta be more to love than commitment. But then I think that I might have given up on the whole idea of romantic love. That I might have to put it to bed that day when you weren't there. You know, I think I might have done that.
C: You know it's so weird. People think they are the only one going through tough times. I mean, when I read the article, I thought your life was perfect. A wife, a kid, a published author. But your personal life is more of a mess than mine
J: So you're just relieved that I'm in even more deep shit than you are?
C: Yes, you've made me feel better
J: Oh good, I'm glad
C: No, I really wish you the best. It's not because I'm incapable of having a good relationship or a family that I wish everyone to be doomed like me
J: I'm sure you'd make..Be a wonderful mom someday
C: You really think so?
J: Yeah..a few anti-depressant, you know, you'll do great.
C: I want to see if you stay together or if you dissolve into molecules
The song that Celine sings in her apartment:

Let me sing you a waltz
Out of nowhere, out of my thoughts
Let me sing you a waltz
About this one-night stand

You were, for me, that night
Everything I always dream of in my life
But now you're gone
You are far-gone

All the way to your island of rain
It was for you just a one-night thing
But you were much more to me
I don't care what they say

I know what you meant for me that day
I just wanted another try
I just wanted another night
Even if it doesn't seem quite right
You meant for me much more
Than anyone I've met before

One single night with you little Jesse
Is worth a thousand with anybody

I have no bitterness, my sweet
I'll never forget this one night thing
Even tomorrow, another arms
My heart will will stay yours until I die

Let me sing you a waltz
Out of nowhere, out of my blues
Let me sing you a waltz
About this lovely one night stand

And unlike the first installment that has a random route throughout the film, the second movie is a bit more organized. Here's the link to see all the movie locations for Before Sunset.

Before Midnight
2013 | Director: Richard Linklater | 1 hour 49 minutes |

In this movie, nine years after their second meeting or 18 years after the first, both Jesse and Celine are married to each other, and together they have twin daughters. They were on a writers' retreat in Greece. Jesse struggles to maintain his relationship with his son, Hank, who lives with his ex-wife, while Celine is at a career crossroad, considering a job offer from the French government.

After they drop Hank at the airport, they have a meal with their friends. The discussion during the meal rotates between relationship, love, and life in general. Since the friends are of different age, they receive and give advice to each other.

Their friends give a night at a hotel to Jesse and Celine. So they walk to the hotel while having a conversation, just like in the first and second installment of the series. They later have a fight in the hotel room, but after spending some time alone, Jesse go to find Celine at the cafe by the pier and make up.

I don't really fall for the last installment in the trilogy. It involves too many people and stray away too far from the usual recipe (just two people, talking about anything). But this one has been real too. Married people do fight and make up afterwards. 

Do you think there will be the fourth Before movie? I'm in for it as long as it has the usual format.

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