American traveller Ethan Hawke and French student Julie Delpy meet while on a Vienna-bound train and share a mutual attraction. With less than 24 hours before having to go their separate ways, the two decide to explore their feelings and Vienna at the same time. A change of pace for director Richard Linklater, this delicate romance features affecting performances and gorgeous scenery. 101 min. Standard and Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital Surround, French Dolby Digital Surround; Subtitles: English, French; theatrical trailer; interactive menus; scene access.
This romantic, witty, and ultimately poignant glimpse at two strangers (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) who share thoughts, affections, and past experiences during one 14-hour tryst in Vienna somehow remains writer/director Richard Linklater's (Dazed and Confused
) most overlooked gem. Delpy, a stunning, low-key Parisian, meets the stammering American Hawke, as the two share a Eurorail seat--she's starting school in Paris, he's finishing a vacation. Their mutual attraction leads to an awkward meeting (beautifully played by each performer), and Hawke suggests that Delpy spend his remaining 14 hours in Vienna with him.
Typically, this skeleton is as much plot as Linklater provides; as usual, he's more interested in concentrating his talents on observing the casual, playful conversations between his leads. His tight time frame allows the characters to say anything to one another, and topics ranging from politics to past romances to fears of the future flow with subtle finesse. The short time frame is also cruel, however, because beneath this love affair lies the painful reality that the two most likely will never see each other again and will be left only with memories--an idea Linklater drives home with an effective snapshot conclusion.
Hardly the trite Gen-X bitch session that many '90s films using this approach become, the film feels more like a Bresson or Rohmer piece, containing sharp perceptions--and flawed humans rather than stereotypes. The protagonists' frank revelations and heated exchanges flow in a stream-of-consciousness style, and its no accident that Linklater set the film in Vienna, where Freud invented and practiced psychotherapy. --Dave McCoy