Finally, after an overwhelmingly positive response to Boyhood, decided to get around to watching this trilogy from Linklater. In this first film, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke meet on a train, get off the train in Vienna and spend the evening and night walking around the city and talking, forming a deep connection while, at the same time, always knowing that when dawn breaks Hawke will have to catch a flight to take him home to the states. The film is about exactly what you’d expect from that summary. All the good things and all the bad things are baked right in. First the good: Hawke and Delpy have genuine chemistry; the script is sharp; the experimental nature of the film, ie. Making a movie out of a two hour peripatetic conversation, is exciting and mostly successful. The flaws: the film is a little too long; there are, as in a real conversation, some pretty dull periods in the script; the usage of Vienna feels a little too “Travel Channel-esque” if you know what I mean.
But on the whole, I applaud Linklater’s attempt to do something a little different and I was never bored, despite some of the slower segments. I liked the usage of really long takes, which allowed the conversations to spool out very organically and naturally. And a big thumbs up to the actors, who had an absolute ****ton of dialogue to memorize and yet managed to make it all sound natural and in the moment. I do feel that my experience of the film, particularly the “ambiguous” ending, was diminished by knowing that the other two films exist and having a basic idea of the setups for both of those films. But that’s my fault, I suppose. And the flaws are far from crippling. And when the film is on target, as in an extended scene involving fake phone conversations in a restaurant, it's dead on. The film is definitely interesting and one I have to recommend. And the next one is cued up to go right now, so review of that one coming soon. Very good movie. Recommended. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – the two leads have great, natural chemistry and the script is honest and witty. If the film wanders from the point and has moments that are dull, well, how could it not? 3 ½ stars.