Why it’s famous
The movie stars Ethan Hawke as Jesse, a young 20-something touring Europe after being dumped by his girlfriend, and Julie Delpy as Céline, a French university student who happens to be on the same train going through Austria.
The movie really encapsulates what it’s like to suddenly fall in love with someone whom you just met, and perfectly describes those first few hours together as you realize how wonderful the other person is. However, despite being well done, it only won one award and became a cult classic instead.
Why you haven’t seen it
Romantic dramas probably aren’t your thing. The movie came out in 1995 and later became part of a series, and while it got decent reviews and garnered a devout following, romantic dramas aren’t like traditional action franchises which can spit out a new blockbuster every year or two. So, the series had a hard time keeping the public’s attention.
Why it might be tough to get through
There isn’t really a lot that happens in the movie. For the most part, it follows the young couple as they walk around the streets of Vienna and share deep philosophical thoughts with one another. For viewers who want more of a storyline, this isn’t the jam-packed movie for you.
Plus, the movie leaves a lot of unanswered questions at the end. I won’t spoil the finale, but you may need to prepare yourself to be disappointed.
Why you should see it anyway
It’s probably the perfect movie for anyone who is about to start university and about to go through new and exciting experiences in a city that they’ve never been to before—or, anyone who believes in romance.
Since Jesse and Céline expect that they won’t see each other again after their night in Vienna, the characters are real with each other and give their thoughts on the world without worrying about how they will be perceived. So, the conversations that they have are incredibly thought-provoking and human.
It’s really a quintessential love story between two people in their early 20s, who aren’t sure what they want to do with their lives but do know what they want to do in the moment.
Jesse: “Jump ahead 10, 20 years, okay? And you’re married. Only your marriage doesn’t have the same energy it used to have. You start to blame your husband. You think about all those guys you’ve met in your life and what might’ve happened if you picked up with one of them… What this could be is a gigantic favour to both you and your future husband to find out that you’re not missing out on anything…”
Céline: “Let me get my bag.”
Jesse: “But you think tonight’s it, huh? I mean, that tonight’s our only night?
Céline: “It’s the only way, no?”
Jesse: “Well, alright. Let’s do it. No delusions or projections—We’ll just make tonight great.”
Before Sunrise is the first movie of a trilogy. The directors approached Hawke and Delpy nine years after the first and second movies so that the actors aged with the characters