Before Sunset


Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by:Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Released: August 19, 2004
Grade: A-

In 1995, a young American and a young Frenchwoman met on a train from Budapest to Vienna.  They would then spend a beautifully romantic evening together that unfortunately ended at sunrise with the two returning to their regular lives.  This was the plot of a low budget film released back in 1995 called, appropriately enough, Before Sunrise.  Rising stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy played the love struck couple with the film made by Richard Linklater, a director who had developed a cult status following the release of his 1993 drug trip, Dazed And Confused.

Nine years have now passed and the three have united to produce a sequel.  For many people, this will be all rather meaningless.  Before Sunrise received a minimal release in this country and the few that have seen it will most likely have picked it off the video store shelf.   Having heard an interview with Ethan Hawke, the production of this film was more a labour of love.  It was never intended to be a huge blockbuster or to make millions of dollars.  It was simply a chance to reunite and once again play two characters they enjoyed so much.

In Before Sunset, Jesse (Hawke) sits in a French bookstore giving an interview on his latest novel to a small group of press.  He publicises his book as a work of fiction but to him, it is a deep recollection of that night in Vienna that he shared with Celine (Delpy).  It is a night he has never forgotten.  The two had agreed to meet that summer in Vienna but Celine never showed.  As they never exchanged details or phone numbers, it seemed the two were destined never to see each other again.

As the book interview concludes, Celine appears in the doorway.  Fate has brought them together again.  But what lies in store this time?  What has happened over the past nine years?

Before Sunset is strictly a conversational piece.  It feels like you’re having coffee with two old friends where you just sit back, relax and enjoy the discussion.  Jesse and Celine speak as if they’ve known each other for years and yet you sense the unresolved romantic tension between them.  It’s fascinating to both listen to and watch them.  You’re unlikely to find two more realistic characters in another film this year.

I won’t spoil what is discussed and how it finishes but I will say that the ending is near perfect.  The audience’s response was proof of that.  Don’t be too perturbed if you missed the first film as you’ll soon understand from the introduction to Before Sunset.  One for the romantics.