October 6, 2006

Before Sunset

What a wonderful dramatic experience! You've got to see Linklater's Before Sunset. But first, of course, you have to see Before Sunrise. And I think you've got to wait a while -- weeks, at least, perhaps a few years -- before you see Before Sunset.

Buffy and Babylon 5 naturally unfold over the course of years. Both get great power from the way the characters age, and even more power from the the gradual unfolding of narrative over a long span of time. But Linklater's doing something else here: resuming a discussion ten years later, a smart discussion among smart, interesting, and plausible people within a sentimental framework that they choose themselves while simultaneously refusing to indulge in sentiment.

Talking about Art with composer Michael Druzinsky a while ago, I was saying nice things about My Dinner with André and he pointed out that the flaw is simply André: it's a great film about a conversation, but the conversation in the film is really not everything you might wish. Julie Delpy's Celine is perfect, not only because she gets the character exactly right through long, long shots, but because she's talking about difficult, everyday things with realistic insight and intelligence.

Ebert: 'Before Sunset' is a remarkable achievement in several ways, most obviously in its technical skill. It is not easy to shoot a take that is six or seven minutes long, not easy for actors to walk through a real city while dealing with dialogue that has been scripted but must sound natural and spontaneous. Yet we accept, almost at once, that this conversation is really happening. There's no sense of contrivance or technical difficulty.