Linklater makes his movies as a sort of contemplation exercises, doesn’t he? I may not be the right person to give a verdict here probably. I have only watched his Boyhood and the Before trilogy.
A common thread running through both is this deep contemplative essence of growing up with yourself and with someone, of adulthood, of falling in and out of love, of relationships, of tough separations, about kids and family and parents, about life in general.
I have written about Boyhood already in the past.
Today as I finished watching The Before Trilogy (finally after tremendous coaxing of a friend) I am hungover in the sheer realness of it.
So the trilogy has three movies (of course you will say) – Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. To begin with, I love how each title is metaphorical. Before Sunrise deals with first connections, falling in love, first unusual sex – everything bubbling with excitement and adventure and naivety. The protagonists – Ethan Hawke who plays Jesse and Julie Delpy who plays Celine – are both 23 – full of dreams and ambitions and contemplations and a desire to thrive, more than simply exist – like it’s just before the sunrise and we have time and hopes to make sure life turns out the way we want.
The second part sees a leap of 9 yrs – the same protagonists (aged 32 now) – but they have a more mature interpretation of life. A lot has changed around them but do we actually change with situations? Or we just hone ourselves to become a little refined version of our own selves? They meet again, not exactly with the same hopes as sunrise, but with the same determination and sense of belonging as one does just before sunset. It’s still daylight in their relationship and there is a lot more, way lot more to explore.
The third movie has another 9 year leap (ages 41 years), so it’s actually 18 years since they first met, and oh boy, has life been hard? Has it taken it’s toll? Of course it has.
I loved how Linklater, Hawke and Delpy managed to write this together and create magic out of words. There are simply many quotable dialogues in the movie decorated with sharp deliveries. The characters talk. A lot. They start getting attached to you through what they speak. I loved how they didn’t use flashbacks to tell us more about the characters but the characters themselves. This way our perception doesn’t dilute the actual personality of the character. As they tell about themselves and the incidents that shaped them through their own words and eyes, they become one of us.
There is no magic except for the magic of “sharing and understanding someone”. All else, the flaws, the anxieties, the arrogance, the anger is you and me. It’s us. They begin with a fairy tale and they end with a realisation that there are no fairy tales. It’s a much exploited concept but none like what Linklater has managed to achieve. Like for instance in one scene, while both Jesse and Celine talk and are oblivious to their surrroundings, the camera lazily wanders over other people in the frame and one would wonder if some ugly overdramatic turn is in the offing. But nothing happens. And the spell is not broken at all.
It’s like a beautiful poem with very little attention to dramatics and more attention to mundane and yet there is this sort of unpredictability.
I think I love the second part more, simply because despite this facade of pragmatism that I wear on myself, I love ‘unions’ more. So I will drink to Before Sunset tonight and hope and wish that Before Midnight we all manage to hold on to the thin threads of our connections so we don’t lose them Before Sunrise – and then we do it again and again and everyday, probably, just with a teensy weensy hope of a forever.