Before Sunrise

Essentially ninety minutes of walking and talking, Before Sunrise follows two strangers (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy) who meet on a train and decide to spend the day together in Vienna. As is typically the case with real conversations, the chat is punctuated by both periodic lulls and flashes of genuine insight, by quietly perceptive observations and pseudo-intellectual debates. Light on plot and ideas, it’s a talky, leisurely-paced two-hander, meaning that there’s little on the agenda besides chatting and romance (and, of course, chatting about romance). Cynical viewers might have trouble connecting with the characters – especially those who’ve left their optimistic, twenty-something years behind – but writer-director Richard Linklater deserves credit for crafting such an impressive sense of naturalism. Likewise Hawke and Delpy, neither of whom even seem to be acting (they’re that convincing), as his lightly-stubbled American and her dowdy French student converse about life, love and all manner of subjects. For all the talk, though, the film’s most intimate moments come when nothing is said at all, such as the sweet scene in a music listening booth or the bittersweet, post-farewell climax.