Movies EVERYONE Should See In Their Lifetime: The Blog
Four years ago, in the study hall of my middle school cafeteria, I began to draft a list. I titled it “Movies EVERYONE Should See In Their Lifetime.” I wanted everyone to fall in love with the films I adored, so I began to add all of my favorite movies to this small, half-a-google doc list. I started taking suggestions, and looking at today’s list, I could still tell which movies were suggested by whom. This list became somewhat of my legacy. My friends quiz me on my claims that I know quotes from “every movie on the list” (which is only somewhat true), people I’ve barely even met already know about my list, and my Instagram polls get pretty heated when I claim Ethan Hunt is way better than James Bond. The natural next step was to share it with everyone, right? Every week, I go through a different movie that managed to make a list that now strains to stay on two pages. What I liked, what I didn’t, where you can watch: you have found the movie you’ve been looking for, and it won’t take you a lifetime to see it.
Rating: R (language)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
“Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”
A chance encounter on a train from Budapest to Vienna creates a connection between two twenty-something travelers, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), one that changes both of their lives forever. Each on their own journey, they take an evening of “stolen time” to wander the streets of Vienna, baring their souls to each other on the promise that it’ll all be over by the next morning. This mid-90s romance is one of the very few films to receive a perfect critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, and remains one of the most celebrated tales of modern love and fleeting time to this day.
What I liked: How beautiful. Before Sunrise stirred up a lot of really existential feelings in me, as you’ll see in the conclusion, and I’ve heard that this is a near-universal experience for viewers. The two screenwriters, Kim Krizan and Richard Linklater (though Hawke and Delpy were said to have helped with the script), created such raw dialogue that we feel connected to the characters almost instantly. Jesse and Celine’s love story is both modern and timeless, and the simplicity of a film made up almost entirely of conversations puts their relationship front and center.
What I didn’t like: The most common criticisms of this film are pretension and lack of plot. That bit is true, certainly; the movie is very singular in its direction, just Jesse and Celine, walking together through Vienna for the entire film. That style of movie is not for everyone, and that brings up the other point: pretension. You have to want to love Before Sunrise to appreciate its beauty, so if it’s immediately “not your movie,” then some of those softer dialogues feel false and trite.
Conclusion: When I first watched Before Sunrise earlier this week, I wrote a Letterboxd review that sums up how I feel about this near-perfect film, and I think I dictated those feelings there as well as I ever will: “Jung thought that we were all part of a collective unconscious….”
Meet me back here next week to hear about the next film in the Before trilogy (yes, trilogy!): Before Sunset. This film is available for free with a Hulu or HBO subscription, or on YouTube starting at $2.99.