Before We Go
“Before We Go” has a familiar genre. A chance encounter between two strangers sparks a life-changing relationship. Sitting in Grand Central Station, Nick (Chris Evans, also the director) is a trumpeter practicing for an audition. He is also procrastinating in dropping by a party, knowing his ex-girlfriend will be there. He meets Brooke (Alice Eve), who is stranded when the last train for Boston left without her. She also has her purse stolen. He is simply a nice guy who wants to help a desperate damsel. As expected, she is suspicious of his veracity at first. But his niceness is persistent. Into the night they enter and soon cultivate a slow but certain companionship.
Maybe I was alone, and lonely, the night I watched the movie. Somehow Nick and Brooke’s night journey nocturnes my imagination on companionship. It helps that Evans and Eve are an attractive couple marinating in an intangible chemistry. Their presence with each other evolves in splendor. It begins as a contingency. Brooke needs help and Nick wants to help. Both are not sure what to expect. Then it’s a tentative presence. Even in her distrust, there is an emotive pull between them. Their presence avows a validity, viscidity, and vulnerability in the other. Walking Chinatown’s winding streets, waiting at deserted bus stops, barging in bar parties, sitting in a psychic’s basement, running from thugs, and entering a friend’s empty hotel room, every setting seems to invite traded words, self-revealing, self-defining words. Their wits banter, their wills clash, their hearts ache out loud, and their souls are knitting into an undeniable intimacy. They are becoming path-finding journey companions.
To be companions, (Its etymology means with/bread: en route, a companion is someone who shares morsels of bread.) conversations are everything. Without good conversations, nothing matters, and with good conversations, nothing else matters in a relationship. The movie has no sound-bite quote, profound insight or impervious monologue. Brooke and Nick simply practice ordinary, even mundane, but intimate conversations. They plumb inner thoughts and tap hidden emotions to find means to make meanings of themselves. On occasions, they press a phone receiver to their ear and pretend to call themselves. These self-talks are a way of self-revelation.
Post-Modernity has corrupted the notion of love making and confined it to nothing more than sexual intercourse. But to make intimate love is to make intimate conversations. Towards their night’s end, Nick and Brooke enter a borrowed hotel room to take a shower and rest. In bathrobes, the obvious is on their mind. They embrace and kiss. Nothing more. A lesser understanding of intimacy would have them strip naked and enter sex. Their mutual refrain diverts any sexual undertow. Emotive intimacy is not always physical intimacy, and making love is not solely having sex. Instead they spend the remains of their night in grace-full, thought-full, and playful conversations. It is just as well that we can’t hear them over a soulful soundtrack. Yet we feel their sensory bonding. They argue, poke fun, laugh, cry, and touch, sharing sounds and embracing silence. In that intimacy, two companions are making a truer love.
The ending seems to leave their relationship uncertain. Brooke heads for Boston to resolve dangling issues with her husband and Nick stays behind to find his way after his break-up. While on the train, Brooke finds a teasing (cryptic to us) note from Nick. It brings a smile to her face and gives us hope. Here’s the thing. We may love another and are loved by another, but deep down we all long for a companion with whom we can share morsels of words for the journey.