What is the one thing that people in love, and people out of love, have in common? They all feel a flood of emotion hit them at certain random moments while watching romantic movies. You know what I mean: when the film reaches its dramatic climax and the romantic lead voices some reflective or brutally honest lines, poignant lines that hit the nail on the head and a spot in your heart, lines that fans quote in fan art, GIF files, and memes.
These lines are usually highly romantic; or deeply heart-breaking; or express some type of self-sacrificing longing, the character doomed for a lifetime of walking around with a missing piece in their heart. Regardless of what your relationship status is, you are likely to find a relatable moment since most romantic films take us through the whole range of emotions.
Sometimes, a director decides to flesh out a love story over not one, but three films! Each part of the trilogy explores different facades of love, detailing the myriad emotions, circumstances, and complexities in every romantic relationship. Here is “The Before Trilogy” by Richard Linklater, each with their own unique take that examines a couple’s romantic existence. Whichever one you decide to binge on, I’m sure there will be moments and lines that evoke some insight into a past, present or even future relationship, because after all, the human condition exists because the heart has its own memory.
For those who appreciate the deep intensity and excitement of a serendipitous, painfully short, extraordinary encounter with a soul mate, there is Before Sunrise. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) are young travellers who encounter each other on a train. They jump off to spend a whole day together, talking and stealing glances at each other as they explore every crevice in beautiful Vienna. We are flies on the romantic Viennese walls, voyeurs enjoying a microscopic view of two people completely attracted to each other and talking about everything under the sun. Then they go and do a really frustrating thing by parting and agreeing to meet in six months time without exchanging any contact information.
For those who need some closure, Before Sunset takes place nine years later, mostly because Linklater, Hawke and Delpy really wanted to continue the story. Over the years, they worked on the script together, and both actors brought their own personal experiences into the film. This sequel takes place in real time, when Jesse meets Céline again, this time in the romantic city of Paris. He is promoting his book and she has found him. They spend about an hour together, catching up, walking the streets of Paris the same way they did nine years earlier (the time difference in the script mirrors the time difference between both films). This time, they are older with adult responsibilities and commitments to their respective partners, but the attraction in their banter and glances lives on. For those who have loved before, this might make you wonder, even if just for a minute, about those who came before.
Okay, so another nine years later, Before Midnight comes along with our romantic couple married and vacationing in Greece for the summer with their twins. This is because, closing in on the nine-year mark in 2011, the trio of Linklater, Hawke and Delpy started talking again about revisiting Jesse and Céline’s story. Perhaps you are wondering what it might have been like to marry the one that got away, or perhaps you are deep into raising a family with the one you made vows to love? Either way, you will appreciate our front row seats as we view the couple. They are together, a family unit, but have differing desires and interests and we are treated to some possibly familiar tensions and conflicts during a couple’s fight. They finish off where they always finish off, together, in conversation, with a lingering last word that allows the audience to impose their own optimistic or pessimistic view of their future.
Let’s look forward to 2022 to see if they come up with a 4th film.
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