“I believe if there’s any kind of God, it wouldn’t be in any of us… not you or me, but just in this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.”– Celine, Before Sunrise
The Before trilogy of films is the best representation of love in any film I’ve seen. It’s beautifully realistic. The evolution of love is shown just through conversations between the couple, Jesse and Celine. There are no major spoilers for any of the films. Anything I’ve described here doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the film, so feel free to continue reading!
Before Sunrise: This film shows the forging of connection and love between two people on a trip to Vienna. It’s an authentic representation of love and the astounding acting makes it all the better. It feels so real. Their love is not perfect according to the media’s standards: their romance is doomed from the beginning because they just have one day to spend together. There’s a twinge of sadness at the back of my mind while I watch these two people connect through deep conversations, looks, and banter. It’s still so beautiful. There’s no huge and unrealistic gesture – they aren’t identical in their views of the world. They just connect on a fundamental level, listen to one another, and enjoy each other’s company. It is as if they’ve known each other for so much longer. I keep finding myself becoming emotional when I watch the film. Partly because I have strong empathy for the characters, and partly because it feels so authentic and seems to be the epitome of a connection, a love between two people. I fell in love with Jesse and Celine as they fell in love with each other.
Before Sunset: This film follows the evolution of love into their 30’s when life has forced ideals and dreams to become grounded. It’s 9 years later after their first meeting. They already have partners and their own lives. But as they catch up and open up to one another, they reveal that they’re not happy with their lives. They wonder what would have happened if they pursued their connection after their first meeting. What’s beautiful in this film is how they still express joy when they’re together even after 9 years. It’s clear they still have feelings for each other. However, now it’s more complicated. Not only is the time before they have to separate against them, but their new pessimistic feelings towards love have to be overcome. It’s not that their outlook is wrong, there’s an acceptance that love isn’t a fairy tale but that doesn’t mean you should shut yourself from it. It means that love requires work. I don’t wish to spoil the ending, but it really is worth it. Their love is just as beautiful as the first film, but there’s a mix of defeat and still, hope for the rekindled love to continue.
Before Midnight: In the final installment, Jesse and Celine are married and have children together. This film could be described as the least conventionally romantic; it shows a period of the relationship where love has turned from the equivalent of a hobby you are passionate about, to a deep inter-connectedness, which requires work and sacrifice. Jesse and Celine argue during the film and their relationship isn’t as perfect as it once was. Although, the conflict is only there because they care about each other and they feel as if something so important to them is being threatened. They communicate about what upsets them, which is something necessary that they expose to one another. They fight to keep the connection alive, but the point is that they are fighting for it and don’t give up. It is this openness about how affected they are and how they feel that means they overcome the conflict and still have a love for each other. It may not appear as romantic, but it’s the most realistic representation of real love when it’s reached the stage that I’ve seen in the film. As Jesse says, “If you want true love, then this it. This is real life. It’s not perfect, but it’s real.” It’s better to live an imperfect life than to pretend it’s perfect and lie to yourself and each other. Jesse and Celine still hold the same bond as they did in the first film. Therefore, their relationship can survive the obstacles.
The entire series of movies is beautiful. I don’t think I know another word that can capture what it is. I urge everyone to watch it! It teaches so much and reaches into your heart much deeper than any other typical romance film, like The Notebook or The Fault in Our Stars. I’m not sure what else I can do to convince you to watch the films or at least the first. Perhaps, the 100%, 95%, and 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes of each film respectively will tempt you.
Furthermore, I would like to add that I am aware I’m young and haven’t experienced the whole evolution of love that is presented in these films. Maybe in the future, I will interpret the films differently, as I gain new experiences. I’ve watched several video essays and read reviews of the film and the understanding of love shown in the movies seems to be universal. These movies have conveyed the same message to millions of people, but of course, we all relate to different moments and have various perspectives depending on our own experiences.