Nine years back there appeared a film with a big impact, made simply and on the cheap, but in high style by Richard Linklater.
This film, Before Sunrise united a young Eathan Hawke in full ascent (as the heartbroken American Jesse) and a “fresh” Julie Delpy as Celine, a French student, who meet by chance on a night train in Europe.
He convinces her to spend the day with him in Vienna so the two can get to know each other better. They converse about his world, their world, delving deep into existential ramblings, and the meaning of love and the beauty that surrounds them. The conversation becomes a romance between the two, yet bittersweetly, as it is just a few hours before they must separate.
Nine years afterwards arises Before Sunset (check out the Warner 2pak with Before Sunrise here), an appropriate title for an end that was expected already since that promised meeting finished the first film. For those of us who loved the 1995 romance in all its Viennese succulence, the new film is quite an extra gift. Maybe there has never been a more justified sequel, and for nongreedy motives.
Delpy opens this up with such subtly true and female power that it may be her best acting ever. Hawke is a wonderful reactor, his face reflecting all her words and implications brilliantly. The end, perhaps not a real ending, works brilliantly too.
I can say this, because I love these two characters. I feel them. There’s just something about the quite desperation mixed with hopefulness that just perfectly describes the mid-nineties. By the end the film, you are either in love again or you never were…
Before Sunset is the rare sequel that adds depth to its predecessor. It’s a character-rich, dialogue-driven delight in which we accompany these two remarkable people during one sunny afternoon in Paris, and, occasionally, are removed from their conversation just long enough to realize how beautiful they, their connection and their flaws really are.
The deeper issues of destiny, love and regret do not detract from this affection, but rather make it more meaningful, and immediate. Yes, it is, finally, a matter of taste, but this is the most exhilarating movie I’ve seen this year. A million cheers and my gratitude to Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.