What Jesse and Celine from ‘Before Sunrise’ can teach us about love

 

I’ve always adored the ‘Before’ trilogy of films because of how romantic they are, but also, how real. Jesse and Celine have the kind of love most of us dream of. That feeling of finding ‘the one’ on a train in Europe and spending a single, perfect night together. And then reality hits and fate tears them apart. But romance trumps again when they find each other in Paris in their 30s, just when they’re starting to get disillusioned by life and love. Then director Richard Linklater, in his infinite wisdom, throws us Before Midnight. Reality hits. Hands up who found it hard to swallow? Jesse and Celine are married with kids. They fight. They have cheated. They have a marathon screaming match from hell. Will they even survive?

I had the chance to ask Richard when I interviewed him for mX Newspaper about his new film ‘Boyhood’ (brilliant by the way), which is out in September.

Richard had this to say about killing the Jesse and Celine dream and/or an honest portrayal of how two people manoeuvre through life.

“It tests your definition of romance but I still consider it (Before Midnight) romantic.’’ he said.

“They have known each other for 18 years and they’re still talking and still wanting to sleep together so that’s pretty damn good. Fault lines are going to be apparent. At the start of all relationships you’re seeing connection – it takes much longer to identify disconnection.’’

I thought this was incredibly insightful. It’s so true. We look for connection so much in new love that we often make false connections just for the sake of connecting. Just so it can be perfect. It’s only as the crazy intensity of the love fades a little that we see ourselves clearly again; that we become fully ourselves again. And this is where the fault lines can occur.

Richard revealed that he still has hope for Jesse and Celine despite all the disconnection going on.

“I think it still is romantic – the first two films by their own definition are pretty romantic but this is how it’s different in your 40s to your 20s. It’s touching on the domestic. I felt we had to go into the belly of the beast of a relationship.’’

He said the film was a kind of litmus test of people’s own relationships. (Eeek).

“I had people coming out from seeing it who knew their own relationship was over. Others were inspired how they were going to make it – they still cared enough. Ultimately it’s a self-reflection; a litmus test of how you feel about romance or your own relationship.’’

I think Richard’s films are so touching because he explores how life is really a constant battle between romance and reality.

He says: “I think we all have our romantic ideas – not just coupling – romantic views of the world in general and then this reality you’re always bumping up against.  People are often trying to attempt to bend their realities to fit their desires to varying degrees and that’s what manoeuvring through life is.’’

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