I have a soft spot for basically every element that makes up this movie… so yeah, not really a surprise that I loved it. But, oh man, I would have watched this every day if I’d seen it in ‘95.

united states, 1995, english


Before Sunrise

A new year, and finally I got to watch something! This early part of 2024 seems to be starting just how 2023 finished, which makes sense. But that means it’s still a real struggle for me to carve out the time for this hobby. But, still, any progress is better than no progress here. Anyway...

This film is pretty well liked on Letterboxd, my film social network of choice. But because I’m a somewhat contrarian (see the title of this site) fellow, I often like to read the most negative reviews of a title, especially when I also really enjoyed it. In this case, what I found was that a large number of people seem to find the two principal characters here absolutely insufferable. I’m not surprised by that at all, but I am surprised at how it affected the experience of those watchers.

This tells the story of American tourist Jesse and French student Céline, two early twenty-somethings who randomly meet each other on a train traveling from Budapest to Paris. Because they are both young and freakishly attractive, they start a conversation, and when Jesse needs to get off the train at Vienna, they decide to spend his last day in Europe together. The rest of the film is them falling for each other, being cute, and then parting ways, unsure if they will ever see each other again. It’s all very romantic.

Like I said, a lot of people seem to find Jesse and Céline extremely off-putting. I’m honestly not sure what those people expect. These are two early twenties people who are trying to convince each other to like them. Maybe it’s just me, but weren’t / aren’t basically all early twenties first date couples absolutely just the worst? Like, he’s a pretentious “deep thinker” and she’s a pretentious “free spirit”. Yeah... of course they are. If I tried to have a conversation with my 22-year-old self now, I would want to shove something in my ears after about five minutes.

I really enjoyed this film anyway. Yes, at times they were the worst, but, also, it filled me with nostalgic memories of a “simpler” time. One I lived through, and sometimes miss a little bit. I was a young teenager when this story takes place and I would have thought these two were so cool. Hell, even if I had just seen this film when it was released, I would have thought this whole situation was basically all I could hope for in life. I would have day dreamed about it. I would have watched this movie until my eyes bled. From my perspective now, I can look back with semi-wistful sighs. The rose colored glasses of the unexplored potential of youth.