I read a news report today that Ethan Hawke recently spilled the beans about a new Before Sunrise movie that they’ll be shooting this summer. Normally, I’d drop movie news like this in my Revo-Emag blog, but this particular tidbit is special, because these movies are special.
If you haven’t seen either Before Sunrise or Before Sunset, please do everything in your power to do so. These two films, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, are amazingly well-written and demonstrate just how powerful a pair of strong characters with good dialogue can be.
Most movies depend on epic visuals, ensemble casts, moving soundtracks, and explosions to carry the story and keep your attention, but these movies rest exclusively on the interaction between Hawke and Delpy’s characters. They meet, they walk around a city, and they talk.
And boy do they talk!
I first saw Before Sunset on a plane trip and as cramped and uncomfortable as I was, the dialogue just gripped me and drew me in. I mean, it was a tiny little screen and I could barely make out what expressions they had on their faces, but wow the conversations they were having were just so amazing that I couldn’t stop listening to them.
For you writers out there, this is the yard stick with which you should measure your characters’ dialogue. To keep an audience engaged solely by the conversations between two characters for 90 mins might seem like too herculean a task, but if they managed to do it in this movie, why can’t you?
Let me reiterate this: these movies are essentially 90 mins of two characters talking.
No car chases. No sex. No robots. No comic relief neighbors bursting through the door with a laugh track.
Every screenwriting guide out there would advise you against attempting to write a movie like this, but these movies prove them wrong in a major way.
After watching Before Sunset, I made a decision to try to write a screenplay like this, driven entirely by the strength of a conversation between two characters. It didn’t come remotely close to being as amazing as these films, but in my heart, that screenplay is the most special thing I’ve ever written.
There was a scene in my screenplay where a character mentions she teared up after watching a movie so profound that it simultaneously inspires and discourages her from writing, because while it’s so special and inspiring, she knows she’ll never be able to reach that level. I’m sure you can guess which movie she was talking about.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but well she was designed to be a really negative character so don’t let her bring your spirits down! Go and watch these movies (Before Sunrise comes first) and I hope they inspire you the way they inspired me.
Here are the trailers: