How come I have never heard of this wonderful film before?
An Indie production, Before Sunrise was filmed in Vienna in 1995. It tells the story of two kids, both 23 years old, who meet on a train. She is French, with excellent English, and he is a broke American, and they are both travelling on a Eurail pass.
She is heading back to Paris, where she is at the Sorbonne; he is heading for Vienna, to catch a plane back home. The plane leaves the next day.
She is seated close to a German couple who are having a massive fight. Tiring of it, she moves to another seat, across the aisle from the American boy. They get into conversation, find they both have crazy ideas about the world and life, find they are really compatible. So, the train arrives at Vienna, and he gets off. Then he has a thought. He rushes back on board, and talks her into spending the night walking about Vienna, and catching the train again in the morning.
And she agrees!
From then on it is a glorious discovery of Vienna. The camera does the wonderful old city proud. And its people, too. There are the two German students who are staging a play. One is the cow. And then there is the palm reader, who tells them they are strangers on a voyage of discovery. And there is the bar tender who falls for the American's romantic story, and gives them a bottle of wine. And of course they drink it in the park. And ride a gondola at Prater Park. And dance in the Vienna woods.
I did all that, aeons ago when I was that age, and I went to the opera, too. Vienna is intoxicating.
The film itself is even more so. As one prominent reviewer wrote, it is impossible to pick out one magical scene without doing an injustice to all the other magical scenes. The directing and minimalist script are just perfect. Believe it or not, it has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
And the ending is perfect, too. Apparently it is the first in a trilogy -- Before Sunset and Before Midnight being the next two. I am not sure I will watch them, as I most passionately do not want to risk spoiling the magic of this one.
Watch it. I saw it on Netflix. The best offering this year -- and there have been some good ones.