Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dissolving Into Molecules

Sometimes you have one of those days, the kind where forces band against you and nothing you do, no matter how hard you try, will allow you to come out on top. Nothing bad happens as a result of this, but by the end you just feel beaten down to the point where you begin to realize just how you got there.

And then the mind wanders away to other things, to events in the past. Memories of glorious moments appear in your head and you wonder if you’re ever going to achieve a semblance of that distant feeling ever again.

The first time I saw BEFORE SUNSET it hit me like a rock. I walked and drove around in a near daze for the next hour. Moments stay with me. That first hard cut to Julie Delpy when we see her in present time. When Ethan Hawke tells Delpy he has to tell her something she faces him, eager, saying “What?” How Delpy almost reaches out to touch him in the car. That long, quiet walk up the stairs. The ending. The ending…

I’ve had things happen to me in this town, things that can easily be explained away by amusing coincidence. But I still find myself wondering why those things happened and a few of them have had such lasting effect in my life and who I am that it’s hard not to wonder about the reason for such things.

BEFORE SUNRISE was never a particular favorite of mine but in the wake of BEFORE SUNSET it seems like a movie that exists for the sole reason of being able to make that follow-up ten years later. The strange thing is that I’ve never revisited the original film in the wake of SUNSET. I think the sequel affected me so much that going back to the original seemed unnecessary. Maybe it also seemed like that if I couldn’t go back to my own past then I didn’t want to go back to the past of these characters either. What they did then didn’t matter so much anymore. What they did now, what they do each time I watch the film, is what does.

“I guess when you're young...you just believe there'll be many people with whom you'll connect with. Later in life you realize it only happens a few times,” Céline says to Jesse when they’re on the boat going down the Seine. In life we rarely get to play out our own version of BEFORE SUNSET. We wake up one day and are forced to accept that certain doors irrevocably close, preventing such a scenario from occurring. But BEFORE SUNSET is about a time in one’s life where you feel those doors closing, when you’re beginning to wonder if that time in life where you encounter others you connect with is coming to an end. Céline and Jesse have gained wisdom in the past nine years, but have lost that sense of wonder that was there that day they were able to wander aimlessly around Vienna. But they remember it and as they begin to aimlessly discuss Nina Simone, it’s still there. It’s just about the most perfect ending to a film I’ve ever seen. They’re still trying. I’m still trying.

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for eachother: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

-- e.e. cummings


Nostalgia Kinky said...

I felt the exact same way about this film when I saw it. I had been a fan of the first film and am pretty much the exact same age as Ethan Hawke so revisiting the characters and seeing how age had changed not only them but myself was very emotional.
The ending to the film absolutely floored me, that last shot...the Nina Simone record. Everything you wrote about. I made the mistake of taking a couple of friends to another showing and they just didn't get it. It was just something personal between me and the film, so it is very nice to hear someone echo the way I felt with it.
I think it is one of the great follow up films and to my eyes Julie Delpy got robbed by not snagging a best actress nod. The scene where she loses it in the back of the car is one of the most heartbreaking expressions of lost youth that I have ever seen.
Sorry for the lengthy comment..I love this film.
I appreciated this post.

Anonymous said...

I'm approximately the same age as Ethan Hawke. I've had similar experiences, although not in a foreign country. Thank you for writing this blog. When the second film came out, I was floored. I barely spoke to anyone for hours following the viewing. And the ending, the ending is among the greatest in film history.

Mr. Peel aka Peter Avellino said...

Thank you both for what you had to say...apologies for lengthy comments that heartfelt are not necessary. It's nice to know there are others who connect strongly to this film as well.

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

I've never seen either film, but after reading your posts about them, I want to. I really love Julie Delpy.