Before Sunset
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Richard Linklater
scr Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
with Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Diabolo, Vernon Dobtcheff, Mariane Plasteig, Marie Pillet, Rodolphe Pauly, Louise Lemoine Torres, Albert Delpy
release US 2.Jul.04, UK 23.Jul.04
04/US 1h20

80 minutes in Paris: Delpy and Hawke

hawke delpy linklater

See also:
Before Sunrise (1995) Before Midnight (2013)

before sunset Nine years after their memorable stroll around Vienna in BEFORE SUNRISE, Linklater, Hawke and Delpy reunite to find out what's happened to these two people. This real-time reunion is entertaining, engaging and strongly emotional.

After nearly a decade, Celine and Jesse (Delpy and Hawke) are still obsessed with the night they met, fell in love, then somehow neglected to exchange contact details. Now as Jesse visits Paris to promote his new novel, Celine tracks him down, and the two embark on an 80-minute chat before he has to catch his flight home. As they discuss politics and culture, aspirations and memories, relationships and sex, Celine and Jesse immediately click back into their easy conversational rhythms. But has too much water passed under the bridge?

Hawke and Delpy so easily re-inhabit these characters that you have to wonder how much they're based on themselves. Apparently open but secretly guarded, Hawke's Jesse again tries slightly too hard to be an offhanded charmer. Delpy's Celine still uses humour and sarcasm to deflect personal questions, then clearly reveals more than she wants to. They are so much fun to watch--their natural and witty conversation is full of intelligence as it cycles through both hilarity and pain, filling in the missing years--both what's happened as well as personal development.

And this is the most striking difference between the films: Their dialog here is deeper and more mature. Where the 20-somethings discussed opinions about religion, poetry, TV and music, these 30-somethings expose their feelings about the world at large--justice, politics, gender, urban numbness. This conversation has much more resonance for movie audiences because they're talking about things that affect us all.

Linklater assembles this expertly; he again films with long takes that capture vast unedited chunks of banter, following the couple in elaborate tracking shots. A few gentle flashbacks give glimpses of the original film, but we don't really need them. This story stands on its own as a second chance to change fate. It's a beautiful film, with a strongly emotional shift at the end that really packs a wallop of sadness, regret, rage, passion and rediscovery. Gorgeous.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo 8.Jul.04

Before Sunrise

delpy and hawke dir Richard Linklater • scr Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan
with Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Dominik Castell, Erni Mangold, Karl Bruckschwaiger, Tex Rubinowitz, Andrea Eckert, Hanno Poschl, Haymon Maria Buttinger, Harold Waiglein, Wolfgang Gluxam, Adam Goldberg
release US 27.Jan.95, UK 20.Apr.95
Columbia 95/US 1h37 3/5
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

before sunrise I somehow missed this first time round, but caught up with it just before I saw the SEQUEL. And while it's a bit awkward and self-indulgent, it also creates two extremely vivid characters and one of cinema's more believable romances.

Jesse and Celine (Hawke and Delpy) are travellers who meet on a train from Budapest to Vienna, then spend 14 hours walking the streets of the city before Celine has to get a train home to Paris and Jesse catches his flight to the States. As they explore the city, they talk about everything from music and TV to parents and expectations to dating and sex, sharing their opinions and falling deeply in love. With nothing to lose.

Naturalistic dialog and realistic performances make this a thoroughly engaging film, capturing everyday rhythms of conversation as two people slowly open up to each other. Hawke and Delpy are excellent--unaffected and perhaps a little too offhanded, but the chemistry is palpable between them. Her open curiosity contrasts nicely with his more cynical pushiness. And there are frequent moments of hilarity and emotion along the way, both in their interaction and in people they meet.

Linklater films it in gorgeous long takes that give the actors room to create characters. This is an overnight odyssey full of small adventures; it sometimes feels a bit fake and pushy. Like the characters themselves, the film tries too hard to appear relaxed. But as it develops, it deepens meaningfully. "After tomorrow morning we'll probably never see each other," one says. "Well, who says relationships have to last forever?"

See also: BEFORE SUNSET (2004) | BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013)15 themes, language, innuendo • 8.Jul.04

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© 2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall