Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Freeze Frame #4: Before Sunrise

My favourite movie of all time. A man and a woman meet on a train. He is an American, on his way to Vienna to catch a plane back home the next day. She is a student, on her way to school in Paris. They start talking, and find each other quite easy to converse with. He convinces her to get off the train with him at Vienna - they could spend the day together, he'd board the plane the next morning, and she could get on the next train to Paris. She agrees, they get off the train, and spend the day together, until sunrise the next day.

That's it. No plot. No scenes to two lovers being separated by various misunderstandings until it all clears up and they kiss while the soundtrack plays Somewhere over the rainbow. No scenes involving the man running after a moving train trying to win the woman back and giving up, only to find her sitting on the platform. Nope, nothing of the sort.

The movie is simply about these two people walking the streets of Vienna, talking, sharing a day of their lives with each other, and falling in love. Falling in love with a movie like this is pretty much like falling in love. I still have (hopefully) many more years to go, many more movies to watch and love, but I know that none of them can replace this one in my heart. They could come awfully close, yes - they could topple a few others off my top ten. But this one will always be Numero Uno.

While there is no scene in this movie that I consider below par, my favourite is a moment when the two of them are on a tram. She's talking, he's looking at her with a little smile, and you can see how he's slowly falling for her. An errant lock of her hair falls across her eyes, and he instinctively reaches out to brush it away, but stops just before she might notice. It was a quick, throwaway moment, but to me, when I think of that movie, this is the first scene that springs to mind.

Interestingly, there's a mirror image of this scene in the equally brilliant sequel, Before Sunset, where she reaches out and pulls back before he notices. Which, I suppose, means that the scene mattered to the maker as well.

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