Before Sunrise is the most realistic romantic film I’ve watched, and thought-provoking beyond the pseudo-intellectual dialogue.
This is not a typical Hollywood romance. The characters do not live happily ever-after and they are surprisingly mature for their age (early 20s) about the nature of couple relationships and love. The dialogue drives the whole movie but feels surprisingly normal – it has filler words, doesn’t seem contrived, and naturally jumps from one topic to another.
Below are the quotes I liked most from the movie.
Jesse: Why is it, that a dog, y’know, sleeping in the sun, is so beautiful, y’know, but a guy, standing at a bank machine, trying to take some money out, looks like a complete moron?
Jesse: Alright, I have an admittedly insane idea, but if I don’t ask you this it’s just, uh, you know, it’s gonna haunt me the rest of my life
Jesse: Um… I want to keep talking to you, y’know. I have no idea what your situation is, but I feel like we have some kind of, uh, connection. Right?
Celine: Yeah, me too.
Jesse: Yeah, right, well, great. So listen, so here’s the deal. This is what we should do. You should get off the train with me here in Vienna, and come check out the capital.
Jesse: Come on. It’ll be fun. Come on.
Celine: What would we do?
Jesse: Umm, I don’t know. All I know is I have to catch an Austrian Airlines flight tomorrow morning at 9:30 and I don’t really have enough money for a hotel, so I was just going to walk around, and it would be a lot more fun if you came with me. And if I turn out to be some kind of psycho, you know, you just get on the next train.
Jesse: Alright, alright. Think of it like this: jump ahead, ten, twenty years, okay, and you’re married. Only your marriage doesn’t have that same energy that it used to have, y’know. You start to blame your husband. You start to think about all those guys you’ve met in your life and what might have happened if you’d picked up with one of them, right? Well, I’m one of those guys. That’s me y’know, so think of this as time travel, from then, to now, to find out what you’re missing out on. See, what this really could be is a gigantic favor to both you and your future husband to find out that you’re not missing out on anything. I’m just as big a loser as he is, totally unmotivated, totally boring, and, uh, you made the right choice, and you’re really happy.
Celine: Let me get my bag.
Celine: Did your parents divorce?
Jesse: Yeah. Finally. They should have done it a lot sooner, but they stuck together for a while for the “well-being of my sister and I”, thank you very much.
Celine: You know, I’ve been wondering lately. Do you know anyone who’s in a happy relationship?
Jesse: Uh, yeah, sure. I know happy couples. But I think they lie to each other.
Celine: Hmf. Yeah. People can lead their life as a lie. My grandmother, she was married to this man, and I always thought she had a very simple, uncomplicated love life. But she just confessed to me that she spent her whole life dreaming about another man she was always in love with. She just accepted her fate. It’s so sad.
Jesse: I guarantee you, it was better that way. If she’d ever got to know him, I’m sure he would have disappointed her eventually.
Celine: How do you know? You don’t know them.
Jesse: Yeah, I know, I know. It’s just, people have these romantic projections they put on everything. That’s not based on any kind of reality.
Jesse: I mean, just once, I’d love to see, some little old lady save up all her money, to go to the fortune teller, and she’d get there, all excited about hearing her future, and the woman would say, “Um-humm. Tomorrow, and all your remaining days will be exactly like today. A tedious collection of hours. And you will have no new passions, and no new thoughts and no new travels, and when you die, you’ll be completely forgotten.”
Celine: Even though I reject most of the religious things I can’t help but feeling for all those people that come here lost or in pain, guilt, looking for some kind of answers. It fascinates me how a single place can join so much pain and happiness for so many generations.
Jesse: Well, I was driving around with this buddy of mine, he was a big atheist, and we came to a stop, next to this homeless guy. And my buddy takes out a 100 dollar bill, and leans out the window, and he says, “Do you believe in God?”. And the guy looks at my friend, and he looks at the money, he says, uh, “Yes, I do”. My friend says, “Wrong answer”, and we drove away.
Jesse: Would you be in Paris by now, if you hadn’t gotten off the train with me?
Celine: No not yet. What would you be doing?
Jesse: I’d probably be hanging around the airport, reading old magazines, crying in my coffee cause you didn’t come with me.
Celine: Actually, I think I’d probably have gotten off the train in Salzburg with someone else.
Jesse: Oh, yeah? Oh, I see. So, I’m just that dumb American momentarily decorating your blank canvas.
Celine: I’m having a great time.
Jesse: Yeah. So, uh, were we having our first fight back there?
Jesse: Yeah, I think so, I think we were.
Celine: Well, even if we were a little bit, y’know. Why does everyone think conflict is so bad. There’s a lot of good things coming out of conflict.
Jesse: You know what drives me crazy? It’s all these people talking about how great technology is, and how it saves all this time. But, what good is saved time, if nobody uses it? If it just turns into more busy work. You never hear somebody say, “With the time I’ve saved by using my word processor, I’m gonna go to a Zen monastery and hang out”. I mean, you never hear that.
Jesse: I kind of see this all love as this, escape for two people who don’t know how to be alone. People always talk about how love is this totally unselfish, giving thing, but if you think about it, there’s nothing more selfish.
Jesse: You know what’s the worst thing about somebody breaking up with you? It’s when you remember how little you thought about the people you broke up with and you realize that is how little they’re thinking of you. You know, you’d like to think you’re both in all this pain but they’re just like “Hey, I’m glad you’re gone”.
Celine: You know, I have this awful paranoid thought that feminism was mostly invented by men so that they could like, fool around a little more. We’re all happy and free as long as I can fuck as much as I want.
Celine: I always feel this pressure of being a strong and independent icon of womanhood, and without making it look my whole life is revolving around some guy. But loving someone, and being loved means so much to me. We always make fun of it and stuff. But isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?
Jesse: Sometimes I dream about being a good father and a good husband. And sometimes it feels really close. But then other times it seems silly like it would ruin my whole life. And it’s not just a fear of commitment or that I’m incapable of caring or loving because… I can. It’s just that, if I’m totally honest with myself I think I’d rather die knowing that I was really good at something. That I had excelled in some way than that I’d just been in a nice, caring relationship.
Celine: I like to feel his eyes on me when I look away.
Jesse: I feel like this is, uh, some dream world we’re in, y’know.
Celine: Yeah, it’s so weird. It’s like our time together is just ours. It’s our own creation. It must be like I’m in your dream, and you in mine, or something.
Jesse: And what’s so cool is that this whole evening, all our time together, shouldn’t officially be happening.
Celine: Yeah, I know. Maybe that’s why this feels so otherworldly.
Jesse: This friend of mine had a kid, and it was a home birth, so he was there helping out and everything. And he said at that profound moment of birth, he was watching this child, experiencing life for the first time, I mean, trying to take it’s first breath… all he could think about was that he was looking at something that was gonna die someday. He just couldn’t get it out of his head. And I think that’s so true, I mean, all— everything is so finite. But don’t you think that that’s what, makes our time, at specific moments, so important?
Celine: Yeah, I know. It’s the same for us, tonight, though. After tomorrow morning, we’re probably never going to see each other again, right?
Celine: We, maybe we should try something different. I mean, it’s no so bad if tonight is our only night, right? People always exchange phone numbers, addresses, they end up writing once, calling each other once or twice…
Jesse: Right. Fizzles out. Yeah, I mean, I don’t want that. I hate that.
Celine: I hate that too, y’know.
Jesse: Why do you think everybody thinks relationships are supposed to last forever anyway?
Celine: Yeah, why. It’s stupid.
Jesse: I’m having kind of an odd situation here, which is that… is… you see that girl over there? Yeah, well, this is our only night together. Here’s the problem: The problem is that she wants a bottle of red wine, and I don’t have any money. I was thinking that you might want to, um, give me the address of this bar, no, I know… and I would promise to send you the money, and you would make our night complete
Bartender: You would send me the money?
Bartender: Your hand?
Bartender: Okay. For the greatest night in your life.
Jesse: Thank you very much.
Jesse: I know what you mean about wishing somebody wasn’t there, though. It’s just usually it’s myself that I wish I could get away from. Seriously, think about this. I have never been anywhere that I haven’t been. I’ve never had a kiss when I wasn’t one of the kissers. Y’know, I’ve never, um, gone to the movies, when I wasn’t there in the audience. I’ve never been out bowling, if I wasn’t there, y’know making some stupid joke. I think that’s why so many people hate themselves. Seriously, it’s just they are sick to death of being around themselves.
Jesse: Let’s say that you and I were together all the time, then you’d start to hate a lot of my mannerisms. The way every time we would have people over, uh, I’d be insecure, and I’d get a little too drunk. Or, uh, the way I’d tell the same stupid pseudo-intellectual story again, and again. Y’see, I’ve heard all those stories. So of course I’m sick of myself. But being with you, uh, it’s made me feel like I’m somebody else.
Celine: No, then it’s like some male fantasy. Meet a French girl on the train, fuck her, and never see her again.
Jesse: Listen, if somebody gave me the choice right now, of to never see you again or to marry you, alright, I would marry you, alright. And maybe that’s a lot of romantic bullshit, but people have gotten married for a lot less.
Celine: Actually, I think I had decided I wanted to sleep with you when we got off the train. But now that we’ve talked so much, I don’t know anymore.
Celine: Why do I make everything so complicated?
Jesse: [stops Celine and positions her in front of him at arm’s length]
Jesse: Uh… I’m gonna take your picture. So I never forget you or, uh, or all this.
Celine: Okay. Me too.
Jesse: So uh, Track Nine, six months from now, at six o’clock at night.
Celine: Dece— December.
Jesse: December, yeah, right. Now listen, it’s a train ride for you, but I got to fly all the way over here and shit like that, alright, but I’m going to be here.
Celine: Okay, me too.
Celine: And we’re not gonna call or write or…
Jesse: Nah… It’s depressing.
Jesse: Alright, your train’s gonna leave. Say goodbye.