Wow… Absolutely wow. Have I got a treat for you this week — three movies that are of such epic awesomeness that I hope I can do them even a little justice on this page.
I’m speaking of Richard Linklater’s astounding “Before” Trilogy that features three films that were both shot and take place nine years apart.
We start at the beginning with Before Sunrise (1995). Here, a young Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy meet on a train in Vienna and spend an incredibly romantic few hours just wandering the city. Of course, like many of Linklater’s movies, this one is all about wonderful dialogue shot in long takes with the two just talking and walking and it’s mesmerizing. The film ends with them back at the train station hastily agreeing to not exchange information, but agreeing to meet again six months from now.
Nine years later we have 2004’s Before Sunset, which catches up with Ethan and Delpy nine years later. There are a few ways to do sequels — there’s the rehash money grab that is so very popular with blockbusters; then there are movies like this that build, expand and catapult the story.
Here I have to put a spoiler alert. I could not believe the emotional investment I had in these characters when I watched the second film and this is largely from not knowing where the story was going. So I can’t recommend enough that you watch this without knowing what’s going to happen.
Needless to say, the conversation and the characters continue to be engaging, and the ending is one of remarkable beauty, so much so that it was hard to believe last year when Linklater announced he had shot a third instalment, Before Midnight (in secret, no less). Here we pick up with the lovers again after nine years have passed. Where the first was of young, new love and the second of love lost and found, the third is all about keeping the love alive. Again, it’s a remarkable collection of staggeringly long shots and great conversations.
In the end I’d like to take a moment to thank Ethan Hawke’s annoying 1990s goatee for making me avoid seeing the original for almost 20 years. Because of that I was able to watch the films back to back and I’ll end where I began… Wow. Now, I suppose we wait to see what 2022 will bring.
Before Sunrise, Sunset, and Midnight are all available on DVD and therefore everywhere online… enjoy.