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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Before Sunrise's straightforwardness is bound to make its ideas about sex, romance, and religion convincing to a late-teen audience in search of answers for life's toughest questions. Sex, however, is only implied and is dealt with in a very serious, respectful manner. There's a bit of language, and not much action, so teens who are looking for a shoot 'em up movie will be sorely disappointed.
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What's the story?
BEFORE SUNRISE tells the story most familiar to all films in a most unfamiliar way. While traveling through Europe, young American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets a French art student Celine (Julie Delpy). The two strike up a spirited conversation on a train and spontaneously decide to spend an evening together, walking the streets of Vienna. The film is comprised entirely of long takes of Jesse and Celine talking, interspersed with short, subtle glimpses of the poets, performers, and monks that inhabit the Viennese night. On trains, on a ferris wheel, walking through graveyards, they talk about their personal histories, love, sex, death, and God. They fall in love, knowing that this will be the only night they will spend together.
Is it any good?
It's the commitment the film makes to the two main characters, and their budding relationship that makes the film so completely enthralling. More than most films, Before Sunrise depends upon the likeability of these characters.
Flaws are included, the disagreements between the couple as essential to establishing the realism that sets the film apart as the intimate connections they make. They hide their vulnerability behind humor and try to talk their way out of the sadness of saying goodbye. Director Richard Linklater's style is appealingly unobtrusive. He lingers on scenes when another director would've cut away, allowing the dialogue and the actors to speak for themselves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the possible downside to brief romances like the one in Before Sunrise. Trusting a raffish stranger on a train may be romantic, but could it be dangerous? How does one balance the need to be romantic and free-spirited with responsibility? Is there a way to be careful about romantic relationships without being jaded or unromantic?
How is it possible to keep audiences entertained without much action? Would this movie have been as successful with different actors?
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