What makes life the most meaningful in its short span are the relationships we forge with people, those who we love. Before Sunrise is a film I’ve seen a few times over the years and recently watched it again with Diana before diving into the other two in this amazing series. It is a great film that manages to show us just how fleeting (and memorable) those relationships could be. Jesse tells Celine, the pretty girl he has just met on a train heading towards Vienna, that this could be one of those moments. After she is old and wrinkly she will never have to look back and wonder what would’ve happened if she accepted the invitation from the handsome American to walk around Vienna and get to know him. She should just do it, take a chance and see what happens. Then she’ll know what she is missing when she is an old grandmother winding down her years.
This could be a recipe for a horrible romantic comedy where the two characters get into all kinds of ridiculous situations in the European city, have a falling out and eventually kiss, make up and live happily ever after. Instead, Richard Linklater writes a movie in which those two very likable people do what characters in their situation would ideally do. They walk around, see some sights, get some drinks and talk and talk some more. They know they only have a few hours together and they figure that walking and chatting is the best way to know each other and wind down the hours. We walk around with them and listen in to their conversation. We see what they see and, more than that, notice how they talk and how they look at each other. We see that they are falling in love and we would love to know what happens after today. Do they meet again? We want them to. We would love to rest assured that they lead a happy life. It’s open-ended or more accurately it ends with a promise and that is good enough. After all, as the great Roger Ebert said, any “ending” in a movie is simply arbitrary.