Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise (1995)


(director/writer: Richard Linklater; screenwriters: Julie Delpy/Ethan Hawke/based on a story and characters created by Mr. Linklater and Kim Krizan; cinematographer: Lee Daniel; editor: Sandra Adair; music: Glover Gill; cast: Ethan Hawke (Jesse Wallace), Julie Delpy (Celine); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Anne Walker-Mcbay; Warner Independent Pictures; 1995-Austria/USA)

“It’s the best pick up movie ever.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Richard Linklater (“Slacker”/”Dazed And Confused”) directs and writes (co-written with Kim Krizan) a brilliant two character romantic comedy. It’s the best pick up movie ever.

Celine (Julie Delpy) is French but speaks an excellent English. She’s an attractive, bright, and easy-going Sorbonne student. She is returning to Paris by train from Budapest after visiting her grandmother. Jesse Wallace (Ethan Hawke) is a handsome young American, who speaks only English. He was dumped by his American girlfriend he visited in Madrid and took a two week European tour on a Euro-rail pass, not able to stay longer because he ran out of money. They get together on the train just outside of Vienna, and while chatting the two make a love connection. When the train pulls into Vienna, Ethan proposes that she join him wandering around the city until his flight to the States the next morning. Julie has fallen for him and accepts the invitation. To kill 14 hours they talk incessantly about their parents, former lovers, the Quaker and Catholic religions, and reincarnation; observe the beauty of the Danube River; ride a tram; visit an amusement park and a church; have a park poet write them a poem with the word milkshake; and Julie gets her palm read. It leads to a first kiss and making love just before the sunrise. But the young lovers don’t think it’s cool to exchange phone numbers, instead they plan to meet in six months at the same spot they said goodbye.

It’s a chatty film, but the talk is scintillating. Both twentysomethings are equally goofy and charming. Everything about their meeting was realistic and engaging. The love story was heart-thrilling, and at the same time was able to get at the emotional truths that underlie all the conversational points and opinions expressed by them. Insightful, entertaining, sweet, intelligent and filled with imaginative variations–Linklater has created a gem.