Walkability Before Sunrise

BeforeSunriseI fully enjoyed the last two documentaries featured at the yowLAB FilmFest but was wondering, hey, what about exploring what makes cities click through works of fiction? Maybe it would bring in a different audience. As it turned out, Sarah Gelbard, one of the co-directors of yowLAB, got that all figured out and was just looking for movie recommendations. So here it is, the first one that popped in my head. From condo shopping to city planning, walkability seems to be all the rage these days so why not spice it up with the possibility of finding your soulmate in the process. Bon spectacle!

A chance encounter between two strangers in a foreign city. They walk around, talk, fall in love, kiss and talk some more. Tonight is the only night and when the morning comes, the two go their separate ways, changed.

No, you won’t get any tree-hopping vampires nor old houses to restore here but what “drama” Before Sunrise may lack, it more than recoups with its heartfelt, timeless dialogues and genuine chemistry between our chatty young lovers Celine and Jesse, played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.

Through their conversations on life, death, religion, feminism and of course, relationship and love, Jesse and Celine journey through their first date while taking us on a walking tour of Vienna. From the almost-kissing scene (above) inside a record store listening booth to the confessional faux-telephone calls (below) in Café Sperl, you know in your heart of hearts, this can’t just be a one night stand. They belong to each other!

By mapping out the location sequence, one may be disappointed that it is highly unlikely for the couple to hit all the spots in real life given the time frame. The Cemetery of the Nameless, for one, is practically in a suburb. Deep down, I think part of the allure of this impromptu romantic side trip is the carefree nature of a stroll where parks, bars, café‎s and grand museums are all within walking distance.

And then, on a makeshift bench out of a pile of pallets down a hidden alleyway, Celine ponders about what brings out the magic between two people. The answer lies not in the certainty but the attempt of understanding someone, of sharing something. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest the same goes with the messy business of urban planning?

Walkable cities are sexy.

Originally posted on yowLAB. Happy Valentine’s Day!






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