Sunday, April 6, 2014

so don't forget you are stardust

All right. I have an admittedly insane idea, but if I don't ask you this, it's just, uh, you know, it's gonna haunt me for the rest of my life. I want to keep talking to you. I have no idea what your situation is, but I feel like we have some kind of connection. So you should get off the train with me here in Vienna, and see the city with me.
Picture this: it's summer. You're on a train on your way home when the person sitting across from you starts a conversation by commenting on the book you're reading. He's from abroad, but he manages to keep the conversation going, and eventually, you start to notice how he smiles easily and doesn't shy away from making eye contact with you when you speak. You always thought of yourself as someone who enjoyed taking train rides alone, but now you wonder if it was because you've never talked with a stranger like this before. For the first time, you realize that you wouldn't mind if the train pulled up at the next station half an hour late just this once. He makes you smile, and you already know you're going to miss him and his anecdotes when he leaves.So what if, when the train pulls up at his station, he asks you to get off with him and continue the conversation? Do you do it? Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise (1995) takes that question of 'what if' and turns it into pure cinematic escapism when Celine (Julie Delpy), a French woman on her way back home to Paris, and Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American tourist heading towards the airport in Vienna, start off as strangers on a train; while their conversation begins as stilted as any first encounter, they slowly open up their hearts to each other as they ease into one of the most beautiful and believable on-screen relationships I've ever had the pleasure of watching.Unlike the formula of many other boy-meets-girl Hollywood love stories we've come to expect, the magic of Before Sunrise is in its screenplay. The dialogue between the two protagonists is endlessly fascinating because of its sincerity but also mundanity: over the course of one night, they mull over everything from love and spirituality to fortune tellers and sex, but don't necessarily come to any final profound moral conclusions. The act of sharing itself is what matters; as Celine puts it: 
I believe if there's any kind of God it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed, but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.
Before Sunrise succeeds is because it captures the serendipity of falling in love without any of the messiness that comes with commitment. Both Celine and Jesse are incredibly conscious of the fact that they only have this one night together before heading off in different directions come sunrise, unlikely to ever see each other again. Knowing that these star-crossed lovers must part ways at the end of the film that's why their relationship is heart-wrenching, and yet it's this kind of subtle suspense that keeps you on edge until the final scene. I've been a little obsessed with the dichotomy between mundanity and fantasy lately, and this movie achieves a really satisfying balance between the two. The premise of Celine and Jesse's romance starting by chance with a simple conversation is so ordinary, and yet there's just enough indulgence in the idea of meeting someone away from home that makes this story feel like an escapist fantasy. While I should mention here that this is actually the first in a movie trilogy (the two sequels are Before Sunset and Before Midnight; I highly recommend watching all of them—each film is uniquely wonderful in their representations), Before Sunrise haunted me with questions of how I can make the most out of the limited amount of time that I have. ...I swear I didn't mean for that to come out sounding so morbid, but you already know I've been thinking about the end of my college years since halfway through my first semester, don't you? Spring break ended last weekend; in hindsight, it was all a blur of catching up on sleep, marathoning Teen Wolf, and stress-eating to Hannibal (glamorous, I know). I don't even know why this last week of school has been so exhausting, but I'm so relieved to be able to catch up on sleep...again. I'm still working on being more spontaneous and doing things I normally don't do so I won't be left with as many regrets like in high school, but old habits die hard, and curling up in bed with coffee ice cream and TV is so tempting.I think the most indulgent thing I've done recently is buy myself a bouquet of roses when I went to the supermarket over spring break. (I may or may not have bought those roses instead of buying more food, and I may or may not have run out of things to eat a day early because I'd spent my money on said flowers. Judge me, I dare you.) A friend of mine pointed out that buying those flowers was a waste of money because "they're just going to sit there and die," and I distinctly remember exclaiming "you know what, we're all going to die" in reply... maybe I am just a tiny bit morbid. On that happy note, I hope you all are having a lovely spring! ;)

xoxo, vivian 

1 comment:

  1. I agree, we need to make the most of the little time we have. we need to love to live life.
    I still haven't seen before midnight yet... part of me is afraid of finding out how it will end.
    Chic on the Cheap