Director: Richard Linklater
Country: USA, Austria, Switzerland
Plot Summary: A French grad student named Celine (Julie Delpy) meets an American boy named Jesse (Ethan Hawke) on the Budapest-Vienna train. They get off the train in Vienna and hang out for a while.
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Andrea Eckert, Hanno Pöschl, Karl Bruckschwaiger, Tex Rubinowitz, Erni Mangold, Dominik Castell, Haymon Maria Buttinger, Harold Waiglein, Bilge Jeschim, Kurti, Hans Weingartner, Liese Lyon, Peter Ily Huemer
I should have seen this film long ago. Or maybe not. Maybe it was even more interesting to identify with the story retrospectively, because this was the effect this film had on me: I was with the characters wandering for the streets of (a familiar) Vienna for one day and one night. My empathy was due not only to the frame--both were penniless students in their “grunge” style, which I used to proudly embrace in the '90s myself, travelling around Europe. Above all, I could easily identify with their very human dialogues and observations about life, parents, love, men & women, future and relationships, which I somehow still concord with. Since the beginning, they shared their intimate "scary thoughts", and this is something which can happen only with strangers without sounding too ridiculous and silly, or with your most intimate friend, in rare occasions.
I liked their moments of brief, awkward, silences and the embarrassed looks they exchanged in a so credible and sincere manner. These uneasy silences were accompanied by more *reflective* pauses, in which they appeared being with their own thoughts in their own worlds, maybe still regurgitating about the emotions and confessions they had just shared, in their own manner and with their own encyclopaedia knowledge and background.
They played their roles with complicity and at the same time individualism. There was chemistry at first sight between them and they looked the perfect couple: both young, beautiful, healthy, profound and chatty. But the more they talked the more their cultural, sexual and personal [but strangely not linguistic--her English was a bit too perfect maybe?] diversities emerged: without falling into any stereotypes, she looked the cute cultured idealist European girl and he was the good looking, passionate, but a bit sceptical, American guy. These peculiarities, even though confronting, never clashed and rather gave them a distinctive character and intellectual volume.
The subtleness of their romantic gestures and their indirect declaration of love, filtered through an imaginary telephone, contributed to render their story romantic in the noblest rather than cheesy sense of the term. They managed to live and enjoy the night with com-passion avoiding the reality of their imminent separation, even though you could feel the presence of a secret question in their minds: "Are we going to see each others again?" They rationally decided that it was better not to think about it, that letters and calls are boring and would spoil the magic which is in the space between the two of them...
Since it is known that there is a sequel, I can say that, at the end, I was really hoping that they would meet again, but not nine years after, in Paris, by chance (see Before Sunset). No. I truly believed in their promise to meet at the same station, at the same time, six months later ... And now I know that they didn't. Disappointed? Yes. But even so, I still (or like to) believe that this is something possible, by chance or not.