I have to apologize. There’s just no excuse for the bizarre oversight of excluding Before Sunrise (Disc/Download) from this blog for so many years. Sure, I’ve mentioned the trilogy as a whole. I’ve written about it in my favorite film zine Moviejawn. I’ve recorded a podcast episode about it (releasing in a few days from the folks who brought you Dazed and Confused 33 1/3!). I even wrote a novel inspired by the concept of two lovers meeting in a faraway place, never knowing how or when they’ll see each other again (Follow the Sun, coming out June 6th 2023 from Random House Canada). In short, I love this movie. I’m obsessed with this movie. And finally, at long last, I’m ready to talk about it over a cocktail!
In looking at the Before trilogy as a whole, my current favorite film out of the three is Before Sunset. I say “current” because I believe these films grow and change as their viewers do. That’s what’s so magical about them. Now that I’m smack dab in the middle of my life’s journey, some triumphs and setbacks under my belt, but still a vast unknown up ahead, it feels comforting to watch a film about a writer who’s still trying to make sense of the past while figuring out how he wants to move forward into the future. Boy, do I get that. But back when I was seventeen, watching Before Sunrise for the first time, there was no “past” to reckon with; there was only anticipation. It was all in front of me: love, career, passion, a home. Watching Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meet Céline (Julie Delpy) on a train to Vienna felt like the answer to life’s great puzzle. Connection was the root of happiness, even more so than love. We connect with cities and occupations just as we do with people. I connected with this movie because it conveyed so much of what I was feeling at the time, and I connect with it still because of the memories of what those “firsts” felt like. The first time you felt a mutual attraction. The first time you kissed someone new. The first time you understood how big a role fate and timing play in our lives. The first time you truly didn’t want the sun to rise after one perfect night. Maybe I’ll never have some of those “firsts” again, but this movie reminds me that I did, once. And I’ll have other ones, in time.
If you’re going to spend all night walking around a foreign city, talking about philosophical theories and encountering a random collection of poets, palm readers, and players (I still want to know how things ended up for Wilmington’s cow!), then you’re going to need some caffeine. While watching Before Sunrise, I recommend drinking the popular Viennese sipper, the Café Maria Theresia.
Café Maria Theresia
1 Tbsp. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Cointreau
8 oz Fresh-brewed Coffee
Combine sugar and Cointreau in a cup, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add coffee and stir gently to combine. Top with whipped cream and orange zest.
If you’d asked me prior to 2004 whether Jesse and Céline really met up again in Vienna six months after they said goodbye, I would have said yes. Unequivocally, yes. You see, I believe in happily ever after’s, and I don’t want to live in a world where these two people can’t make it work. We may have come to the end of their onscreen journey with Before Midnight (unless Linklater decides to pull another rabbit out of his hat), but my views on this couple are unchanged. They may find themselves separated over and over again by fate and circumstance, but in my mind they will always make their way back to each other.
On that note, I’d like to give a quick plug once again for Follow the Sun because if you like the anticipation and romance of Before Sunrise, you’ll probably enjoy these elements in my book. To read an early copy, be sure and sign up to receive the Cinema Sips weekly posts via email before March 1st 2023 (you’ll find the sign-up field on the right-hand side of the screen on the Cinemasips.com desktop site, and if you’re a mobile user, scroll up/down until the “Follow” button appears at the bottom). My publisher has graciously agreed to send NetGalley links for an advance copy of the e-book to my loyal followers since so many of you have told me how excited you are to read it. Of course, if you’d rather wait and throw the final print version in your beach bag this summer, pre-orders are always an option, and deeply appreciated!! Cheers, and thanks to all my current and future readers for getting off the train with me 😊.