People tell me that I am a romantic. I don’t think I am. I suppose I believe that romance can be wonderful but I place no faith in its staying power.
I certainly have little patience for what passes for romance movies nowadays. A quick survey of recent romance movies will reveal highly contrived and unrealistic story lines. Let’s see, there’s the story of a woman who is always the bridesmaid and never the bride…..27 times (27 Dresses). Or it could be that the man realises he loves his long time best friend but only after she gets engaged to someone else and asks him to be her honor attendant (Made of Honor). Or where hot romance only occurs with stone cold brooding vampires (Twilight). Then there is a tale of the career driven executive woman who needs to be posted to a factory in the Minnesotan winter wilderness before she can find love in her arch enemy, the union representative (New in Town). Or she is a school teacher who is having an affair with a student’s father and having a baby with her estranged husband (Then She Found Me).
I am not saying that these are not necessarily bad movies. They may be good to watch but they are stories of an idealised sense of romance under very unique circumstances which quite frankly relates to very few of us. I certainly hope none of us have been the bridesmaid for 27 friends or had to run a plant in the frozen north or are so awkward, we find understanding only from the undead. Similarly, none of us age backwards like Benjamin Button or have had the extraordinary talent and life of Forrest Gump.
But would you watch a movie about a boy and a girl meeting on a train and then spending the day talking to each other until they part the next morning. Yup, they talk and they walk and nothing much else happens except that they make that rare connection of the souls. Well, I watched such a movie and I think there was a rare confluence of talent from the writer, director and actors which resulted in the movie that I consider one of the greatest romance movies ever. There is nothing special about the boy or the girl. It could be you. It could be me.
I refer to the movie, Before Sunrise. This 1995 movie was written by Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan, directed by Linklater and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Ethan’s American character, Jesse, is traveling through Europe on a railpass when he meets Julie’s French character, Celine, on the train on the day before he flies back to the USA from Vienna. The movie is just entirely about how they discover each other in the few hours they spend together walking around Vienna. The ending was cleverly left open-ended until the sequel, Before Sunset, picks up the story 9 years later.
If you have never watched either movie, I totally recommend watching both, one after the other. The video clip below comes from near the end of Before Sunset and Celine sings this wonderfully simple song to Jesse. It was a great way to end the story. The song was actually written and sung by Julie Delpy.
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What are your all-time favorite romantic movies?