Before Sunset is a very romantic movie. I have many very romantic things to say about Before Sunset. But first, I have to tell you how fucking hot Julie Delpy is in this movie.
I was generally a starry-eyed romantic teen rather than a lusty one. Sure, I longed to spend hours grinding against a topless Patrick Swayze as he taught me how to “dirty dance”, but I also swooned at the romance of trying to balance on tree trunks with him. Yes, I screamed laughably crude sexual innuendoes at Michael Jackson from the front row of his concert, but I also spent hours daydreaming about his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley and how happy they looked in all their photos. (Stop. Laughing. Now.)
But there was one person who truly set my head, my heart and my loins all aquiver. Ethan Hawke’s character in Reality Bites was everything my wannabe teen heart desired in a man. He was incredibly cool with his laid-back slackerness, sky-high IQ, breathtaking wit, he was emotionally unavailable to all except that special girl (who would of course be ME, not freaking Winona), and to top it all off he played in a band. Plus he looked like Ethan Hawke, obviously.
Now I’ve set the stage, perhaps you will understand just how fucking hot Julie Delpy is in Before Sunset when I say that as between her and Ethan Hawke, I spent the entire movie LUSTING AFTER JULIE DELPY. My sexual orientation has not felt so challenged since Ludivine Sagnier in Swimming Pool and Claire Danes in The Hours, but now I think I’d pass up a threesome with both of them in exchange for a mere coffee with Julie Delpy’s character in Before Sunset.
Now before all you male readers start queuing up slobbering at ticket counters worldwide, I should clarify that Julie Delpy remains fully clothed throughout this movie. I’m as big a fan of tits and ass as the next man, but in this movie she has shown me that my lust can be as noble and profound as it can be shallow and tasteless. With every laugh, every cheeky joke, every fiery passionate statement of principle she made, (and okay, sometimes she did the hair thing too), I was as consumed by lust as if she had run naked through a muddy field of lesbians, holding a sixpack of beer in each hand. (Well, that would actually do nothing for me at all, but I’m trying to channel the male mind here.)
Anyway. I think I’ve made my first point abundantly clear, no?
On to the romance. Which (WARNING!) is going to be completely nauseating, and therefore feels starkly inappropriate for the tone in which I’ve started off this post, but who cares. From the reviews I’ve read, and certainly from my own impressions of the movie, the really special thing about it is that it celebrates the romance of conversation more than any other romantic movie I’ve ever seen. Unlike others, the point of this movie is not the clinch, or the climax for that matter, but just the simple exhilarating chemistry between two people who are attracted to each other, who have brains, and are articulate.
For two hours, you watch Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy walk around Paris, and talk. They do nothing else. Their conversation is rambling, unstructured, sometimes silly, sometimes horny; sometimes they say cool intelligent things that make a lot of sense, and sometimes they cringe almost as soon as they’ve said something because it sounds too cliched, and they know it. But through all of this what shines through like a beacon is that intangible, irresistible spark of attraction, next to which every other romance they have ever had has paled in comparison.
So I watch this, and I am entranced. And I think about how this interaction between them is what has endeared this movie, and its predecessor Before Sunrise, to so many people. And I realize that all those conversations, all those moments where they look at each other and those looks are permeated with mind and body and soul in a matter of split-seconds…I have all that. I love this movie not because it shows me an ideal world of romance which I can only hope and dream for, but because it takes my romance and reminds me just how wonderful it is. Everything they have in the movie, I have in real life. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Alec. Instead of Julie Delpy, he has to be content with me.