Twenty years ago this week, Before Sunrise was released. It still amazes me that a mundane love story that merely shows the reality of romantic love through its different stages has found its way to being one of the best masterpieces in the history of film. I don’t care if I’m biased, it’s true, anyway.
My fellow Before series fans and I started our morning right by reading a friendly debate on our favorite movie. I read each part with feelings. I recalled the dreamy Before Sunrise, the intense Before Sunset, and the satisfying yet gut-wrenching Before Midnight.
Read the lovely debate here.
What makes Jesse and Celine’s love so strong is the gift of attention. They can’t stop caring about each other; you see it in the long term. It’s possibly one of the most loving things you can want to give another human being, and Jesse and Celine try their very best.
Also, and I can’t stress this enough, these movies are insanely romantic. And I’m not talking about sickly grand gestures in the style of Richard Curtis (if only someone held a lighter up to Andrew Lincoln’s obnoxious Dylan cards in Love Actually) but romantic in seeing what makes two people truly connect. How they speak and turn each other on intellectually. They just talk. A lot. And they care. They discuss the Germans occupying Paris, what art means to them, how cool Nina Simone is, and just what it means that they gave their lives to each other. That is way sexier than playing, like, “M’ apparì tutt’ amora” with a ukulele outside someone’s window.
For both Jesse and Celine, there’s nothing more passionate or sensual in the world than conversation (corny, I realize), and it’s in the sounds of one another talking that each is so beguiled by the other. In the same way that the audience is pulled into their lives through that perspective, it’s how they were pulled toward each other.
And just like that, I remember you.
Because we can talk about world peace and never find it corny. Because I can tell you how much you make me giggle and it’s all right with you. Because I can tell you that you mispronounced the word. And you can tell me my paragraph didn’t have a clear topic sentence, plus my grammar is terrible. Because we can laugh at silly things we see when we sit on the sidewalk devouring fishballs, hotdogs, or P5 barbecues. Because we can guffaw at the silliness of nothing for an hour, empathize with the old man we talked to during a short jeepney ride, and play with toddlers as we baby talk. Because you can stand watching romcoms just because I like them. And I can tolerate hearing gunshots and screaming for couple of hours because that’s your type of movie. Because we can sing on top of our lungs together. And dance like no one’s watching.
Because we can simply stare at the blank sky or the pouring rain, even without holding hands. Because we can live without checking our phones even for a day when we’re together. Because we talk. Because when something happens, you’re the person I want to tell.
Because you are my Jesse and with you, I’m Celine.
Before anything else.