I planned to dedicate a nice long post to this movie by the time I was into fifteen minutes of it. I ended up doing that, but the reason for my doing so is not the same as it was during the first quarter of Before Sunrise.
I want to name the first section "The Train Episode", which is probably the most attractive part of it. The scene takes place in a train and two young co-passengers start talking. I did not feel the need to say a man and a woman here, because somehow that did not matter in the beginning... It was more like a human bonding in a dream sequence where you just happen to find a great companion in a stranger, and you know that this is where it starts and ends and there is no future to this short intercourse of thoughts...
I am not a stranger to a plot (or a lack of plot) like this, because this sudden-chemistry-among-strangers stereotype has been used in innumerable art films (and commercial films too, but that is way too intellectually inferior to include here) in many languages. To start with, it reminded me of Anthony Zimmer, which could qualify as an art-film-turned-action-bonanza. The train scene in Before Sunrise finally had to make me remember Satyajit Ray's Nayak, but that was a grave mistake. It raised my expectations and hence Before Sunrise failed to leave an impression that would render it unforgettable.
When Jesse and Celine start their casual conversation, it does seem like they are headed to some sort of an adventure, but it is quite unfortunate how the entire chemistry is diluted beyond repair by overdoing almost everything that might have helped the movie. Things are perfect till Celine decides to chuck her plans of going to Paris and spend time roaming the streets of Vienna with Jesse, because they both feel they have some sort of a "connection". Here comes the second section, which continues and eventually drags on and I cannot come up with a better name for it than "The Street Episode". This is where things start going wrong.The two kids seem almost desperate and end up talking about everything under the sun. It becomes a little too obvious that they want to pour out everything before saying goodbye the next day and even though this is a dream sequence of sorts, it is debatable whether so much personal dialogue adds anything positive to the movie. They play this question-answer game where they end up talking about their sexual experiences, the idea of love, their past... and that is not all. Throughout the rest of the film, they walk the streets like a couple of vagabonds but spoil the effect with their constant chatter about their families, what happened to their parents, their respective relationships, break-ups, how they feel about love, marriages, what they think about the position of men and women in society ...and the list goes on.The setting almost seems like a hazy backdrop behind their voices. But nevertheless, it will be unfair not to mention certain characters like the old fortune-teller, who predicts absolute nonsense and says they are stars after she is paid, or the stray poet who writes them a poem for a few bucks.These little details add to the otherwise diminishing artistic element in the movie.
I was absolutely sure that there will be a kissing scene once I figured out that this movie is not going to make it as a complete intellectual tonic, where the viewer is mostly left with the authority to decide if the characters need to get physical or not. So a kissing scene there was.. followed by some more, and eventually they started walking hand in hand.I am not complaining. In fact, this would have helped a huge lot if the French girl and the American boy had chosen to speak a little less about their personal histories and kept it to gestures and some aesthetic physical communication. The movie concludes like you would expect it to, where the writer-director conjures this haze of uncertainty.Jesse and Celine have to part ways, their day of adventure is over, and yet in a few hours time they have discovered a connection at a very deep level via certain conversations, exchange of ideas and kisses.The story is neither here nor there.It is not a totally-idiotic-but-entertaining story about two strangers who get hitched in two hours and get married,and it is not an artistic-and-thought-provoking account of two strangers who meet, connect, understand each other but reject the idea of taking it any further to keep the sweet memory alive.
Before Sunrise is definitely not a waste of time. You feel that sense of painful pleasure in the end and get that romantic feeling too. But my point is, it is all very overcooked.