9
Sep 04

I suppose if I had one problem with Before Sunset

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 234 views

I suppose if I had one problem with Before Sunset, it was that the characters, having grown up, had become less interesting. This may seem odd, considering more had happened to them in the past nine years, but in getting older their personalities were more defined. In Before Sunrise there was still the sense that these people were developing. In Before Sunset they had developed.

But – hold up – this is the Brown Wedge. You don’t talk about films here. Except that Jessie Wallace, like his co-creator, actor and co-writer, he is also an author. And reading Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke, you get an idea what kind of author Jessie might be: this is method acting to the nth degree. Almost paralysingly introspective, trying to battle with an inate flair for constructing almost absurd vignettes. There are two personalities pushing on Ethan Hawke the writer, the desire to be deep and meaningful, contrasted with telling a rollicking story about interesting people. The battle is interesting to watch. A five page meditation of faith can suddenly turn into well realised piece of playful sex. The climatic sequence where the leads cannot get out of a Mardi Gras locked New Orleans is as much about the newlyweds personal tensions than it is the life and death situation.

And yet like Jessie in Before Sunrise/Sunset the passages often linger on uncharacteristic (for the characters) and out of place musing on the world. His leads are stock indie movie dysfunctionals and would be tiresome if either were given the entire book to narrate. Jessie is probably Hawke’s best role, and Ash Wednesday shows why he can pull off such a potetially annoying character with elan. Given the choice between taking the logical conclusion to his book pitched at tragedy, he makes a double take and lets the Hollywood in him take over. Which is no bad thing, the other ending is written in our head. But it is interesting that the two more than half decent novels I have read by actors this year (this and Shopgirl) spend the entire book building to tragedy, and then wriggling out of it.

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