We had been enchanted by Jess and Celine’s story eversince they met on the train in “Before Sunrise“. It was surprising that a movie with just two actor exchanging lengthy monologues of their pseudo-intellectual concept of life while walking around Europe became such a hit. There were no explosions, no villains or no special effects. But we all love it and got hook on their love story. Director Richard Linklater had perfectly reached out to the masses by giving a voice for the romantic youth. No one can play the parts of Jess and Celine better than Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Jess and Celine’s pseudo-intellectual, witty and flirty exchanges reflects the ambivalence of the youth towards love: their romanticism & cynicism. But we all believe that they are soulmates, that they are meant to be together, like what all believe when we were in our 20’s that soulmates exist. And even when they parted, we know they will meet again.
Fast forward nine years after, Jess and Celine crossed path again in “Before Sunset“. Now at their 30’s, they both have experience life’s pains and mini-victories. At their 30’s, Jess and Celine has lost a bit of their youthful carefreeness and replaced it with a tinge of bitterness. But still a glimpse of idealism are burning dimly in their eyes. They both look at each other as a sign of hope. They both see in each other as ” the one who got away”. In this movie, we want them to stay together and not let the other get away. But the movie left us hanging. Giving the intelligent audience to choose the ending. If you are a positive person- “you would assume that they got back together” or a negative person – “you would believe that they got back to their respective lives“.
But our question was answered in the the third chapter of Jess & Celine’s love story in the new movie, “Before Midnight”.
Two decades since Jess and Celine met in the train, they are now vacationing in lovely Greece with their beautiful twin daughters. Now at their 40’s, Jess looking much thinner, older and not-sexy-sloppy and Celine was still pretty but plumper than her usual svelte body. My sister and I was talking if it is possible that Jess and Celine can still be having those witty exchanges and deep analytical conversations when the reality of mortgage, changing diapers and dirty kitchen comes into play. At their 40’s, they were still deep thinkers like they were when they were in their 20’s but more weary with life’s challenges. Conversations became more about arguments, discussions of plans and accusations. But I learned that relationships are better when couples fight from time to time. Each one are different, so arguments are inevitable. Because once there is absolutely no conflict in a relationships (which is impossible), it means game over, one of you stop caring at all. I am newly married. Me and my husband are not in the same stage where Jess and Celine. We don’t have the same issues that Jess & Celine are barking at each other. But some of my married friends confided to me that some of Jess & Celine’s exchanges hit close to home. Men need reassurance and could be clueless most of the time. While women are over-emotional and hysterically crazy, blowing thing out of proportion. But it was still obvious. Both of them are still crazy for each other. Love in marriage appears in a different light compared to the image of love in your 20’s. Compromises, acceptance and hanging on to your marital vows replaces those poetry, long-stem roses and serenades. For married couples, these are better than expensive bouquets. The positive person in me believes that Jess and Celine will stay together. And we will hear from them again when they turned 80, I hope. Their love story lives on. It is a realistic story. The love story of our generation, with all its imperfections, complexities and nagging uncertainty. This is how we understand what love is. Just like how Jess & Celine showed us.