Nine years ago I saw Before Sunrise, the quintessential American-student-bopping-around Europe-and-meets-pretty-girl-movie. It really captures the feeling of being 22 and doing the semester abroad: the constant battle between feeling oh so cool and sophisticated to be wandering around Europe contrasted with oh so dorky and humbled by the onslaught of art and history and culture. It's a two hour conversation between the American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delphy), a Boticelli's angel-faced Parisian woman as they wander around Venice and start to fall in love. When they both get on the train again the next morning to go their separate ways, will they ever see each other again? The movie realistically portrays the awkwardness and excitement of instant attraction as well as dialog so natural I could imagine my friends spouting the same things.
Before Sunset is the two of them nine years later. While I can't say I can relate in quite the same way to Jesse, who has published a best-seller which he is promoting in Paris, I can relate to the hurts and disappointments they have accumulated in life right along with the accomplishments and pleasures. While it isn't a mopey story, it is bittersweet to revisit what could have been and to think about how you've changed, both for the good and the bad.
This is the kind of movie you watch with a smile on your face because you are enjoying yourself. You feel so lucky to be privvy to their conversation, even if it can be tiring to keep up with their meandering conversation at times. And I love that it IS nine years later, and that they ARE nine years older playing characters in their early 30s. It's like this weird universe where I can truly believe that Jesse and Celine actually exist in a way other movies can't do it. It's not perfect, mind you, but it is truly fun.
So what I'm saying: it's well worth seeing, especially if you are a 30something who has travelled around Europe. But make sure you rent Before Sunrise first to make sure you understand the full story arc.