Release Date: 1995
Director: Richard Linklater
Why I picked this: The concept of the “Before” trilogy intrigues me
This romantic drama eschews genre conventions and tells a story of two strangers in a foreign land who find a connection with each other- all taking place within a day. Upon meeting by chance in a train, Jesse, played by Ethan Hawke, and Céline, played by Julie Delpy, make the impulsive decision to deviate from their current travel plans and explore the city of Vienna together. While the two initially find the situation to be awkward, the connection between them grows as they learn more about each other. We, the audience, only know what they tell each other, but the characters are very strong. This is due to the well-crafted and genuine dialogue exchanges between Jesse and Céline, each with their own perspectives and philosophies on life and love. The dialogue is quite entertaining, especially when the two find differences between each other. Jesse and Céline have interesting encounters with citizens from Vienna; sometimes they provide insight on the two and their relationship from the outside, the two main examples being a fortune teller and a poet. The two are both mature, thoughtful, and open-minded; never do they quarrel over anything petty or unimportant. Both having gone through their own relationships, they know what not to do with each other; they think in the long-term, something that movie characters and even real people forget to do. Hawke and Delpy have amazing chemistry with each other; you see real people and the beginning than a real relationship, rather than simply actors reading off of a script. A scene between the two at the end of the film is particularly powerful, quite a feat after only seeing these two together for such a short time.
A great screenplay and concept by Richard Linklater is supported by the acting and chemistry between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy; what results is a genuine and entertaining look at life, love, and relationships.