This means [not] nothing to me…ah, Vienna

This means [not] nothing to me…ah, Vienna

…when [Jolson] got back to New York after honeymooning in Europe with his second wife, Jessel asked him how he was feeing and he said he didn’t know. “How can you say that?” Georgie asked. ‘You’ve just come back from your honeymoon. Aren’t you in love?”

“Love,” Jolson shrugged, “what’s love? Who wants to go to Europe alone?”

–George Burns, “All My Best Friends”

So I finally saw Before Sunset. I liked it, though not as much as most people seem to, or as much as you’d think I would, considering that it is a film that either sinks or swims on the basis of its dialogue.

I tend to respond to such films by (metaphorically speaking) clapping my hands in delight like my nephew to a fire truck. But though it was certainly poignant and made me want to write (not just this…better stuff), I can’t totally shake the feeling that it was, at least in some sense, an 80-minute rationale for Ethan Hawke having cheated on his wife.

Hawke has almost always seemed overrated to me, but he was never better as an actor than in the original Before Sunrise, written by director Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan. Here, where’s it’s said Hawke wrote most of his own part, some of the wit so present in that original character seemed forced and self indulgent.

Delpy is much better; she seems more naturally to inhabit her character. I admit it’s possible I’m projecting feelings of disapproval onto Hawke and giving the French babe a pass, but watch her. In the few and far-between moments when both shut up for a few seconds, she is watching him, while he is lost only inside himself.

Acting choice or natural disposition? I guess we’ll never know.

The film did make me decide one thing, though. I would much rather go to Vienna (splendid setting of the original) than Paris. At least the strangely faded version of Paris in this film.

But like Jolie, who wants to go alone? Not me.

Not me.

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