A few Saturdays ago my girlfriend was out of town and bad news in the world of American politics was prominent for, like, the 537th consecutive day and I started watching "Dog Eat Dog" (don't ask) and I got through the prologue and was just like.....nuh uh. Nope. Not tonight. I switched it off. I put on, for reasons only the movie gods could divine, "Before Sunrise" for the first time in, maybe, four years. I felt like I was sucking down oxygen. I observed some things. I guess they are things I have observed many times having watched this movie many times and so I decided to record them for blogging posterity.
It opens, right, with that couple on the Eurorail arguing and then the camera cuts to Celine (Julie Delpy) sitting across from them and I love how in having Celine try and blot their argument out, Delpy really has her re-focus on her book,
Then she gets up and moves, you know, and takes the seat right across from Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and they steal those little looks of each other. And I really love how Linklater cuts from medium shots of them stealing looks to close-ups in the wake of these little quick zooms when they actually start conversing.
He does that again way later, when they are in Vienna and they have been walking and talking all night and have now, at this little cafe on a yacht, broached the topic of Will We See Each Other Again? At first, when they are seriously considering it, they are in medium shots.
But when they decide to say, Nah, screw that, this is our one night, our only night, let's make it count, it goes to close-ups.
When they first sit down in the dining car on the Eurorail and engage in nervous conversation, Delpy has Celine bite her nails...
...which Delpy reprises later when they first come close to broaching the subject of whether or not they will see each other again.
In Vienna, they hop on the tram and sit down.
Hawke has Jesse not so subtly go for the arm-sort-of-around Celine move.
But as he does, Delpy has Celine respond by sitting up, perceptibly moving away from the arm-sort-of-around her schtick.
Then she spends the rest of the conversation pitched ever so slightly forward and away from the arm.
Eventually, though, that gives way, as you see here later on another tram where, as they exit, she grabs hold of his arm.
And then finally, much later, she actively takes his arm and puts it around her.
I like how so often when they talk, Hawke has Jesse listen with this wide-eyed gleam...
...while Delpy has Celine listen.
There are a couple times when the Future Jesse & Celine can be glimpsed. For instance, the scene with the fortune teller, who walks away and then turns back, intoning about how we are all "stardust" and some such.
But LOOK at these reactions as they turn away from the fortune teller, who you can still see their in the background. Celine's smile is pure, honest joy; Jesse's smile is what the hell was that all about?
Later, when they happen upon the street dancer and move in closer to watch, Hawke has Jesse goofily dance too, which you can sort of see in the below frame.
But then he notices that Celine isn't even paying attention to his goofy dancing.
So he settles down and watches too. I mean, if you didn't know there was a "Before Sunset" and "Before Midnight" you could watch this scene and see a lifetime of Jesse trying to make something about someone else be about him instead and Celine willfully ignoring him.
Ah yes. The bartender, my dawg, played by Haymon Maria Buttinger, who has all kinds of IMDb credits and gives a woefully underrated one scene performance here. He is on the receiving end of Jesse's pitch for a bottle of wine to celebrate this one night he has with Celine.
And when Jesse explains he has no money to actually pay for the wine, Buttinger reacts with his incredulous laugh.
And then when Jesse says he'll promise to mail the bartender the money for the wine, Buttinger parries with his INCREDIBLE "don't fool me, son" look.
But. But. The bartender, cautiously going along, asks for Jesse for his "hand" as a promise to honor his pledge to send the money. Hawke is all jangly nerves but Buttinger here is straight up gallant.
Then he gives him the wine. "For the greatest night of your life," he says, and Buttinger gives the line this ring of semi-amusement, like he's still on the fence about how much he believes this whole plea.
But the look Buttinger has the bartender give Jesse and Celine as they depart? Nah, man. Dude believes in true love, maybe even in spite of himself. Haymon Maria Buttinger should have been nominated for an Oscar.
I just love this shot. That's all.
They look so young...