Synopsis: Nine years after Jesse and Celine first met, they encounter each other again on the French leg of Jesse’s book tour.
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Director: Richard Linklater
Running Length: 80 minutes
TMMM Score: (7.5/10)
Review: I wanted to see Before Sunset when it was released in 2004 but being the completist that I am and not having seen Before Sunrise, I had to take a pass until I was caught up. The years went by and I never did get to see Before Sunrise until recently…and I was lucky to have this sequel on hand so I could go right from one movie to another.
When Before Sunrise was made I’m not sure any of the people involved even considered that a sequel might be in the cards so it was interesting that stars Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke (The Purge), and director Richard Linklater (Bernie) didn’t feel the story of Celine and Jesse was over and brought the two back together again, nine years later.
Moving the action from a night in Vienna to an afternoon in Paris, this installment finds Jesse (Hawke) on the final stop on his book tour where Celine (Delpy) finds him giving an interview in a bookstore. His flight back to the US is leaving in a few hours but the two decide to go out for coffee which leads to another chat fest in and around various Paris locales.
Everyone involved has matured in the nine years since the first film was released. Linklater grew as a filmmaker so he’s able to give the actors enough room to take on long interrupted takes which only serves to enhance to spontaneity of dialogue…that was in fact rigorously scripted and earned Hawke, Delpy, and Linklater an Oscar nomination for adapted screenplay.
The actors have come a long way as well, Delpy in particular. Gone is the overly fussy actress from the first film and present is a more confident leading lady…perhaps because she’d mastered English more assuredly this time around. Hawke is no stranger to long monologues or extended dialogue scenes given extensive stage experience. While Hawke looks about 20 years older in this film, his easy going gift for gab again makes Delpy look even better.
A full 20 minutes shorter than the first film, there’s still a lot of dense material to be had…all of it there to serve the story and free from any flowery exposition that would have read false. While Celine and Jesse work on writing a new chapter to their tale, audiences are once again swept away thanks to a collective understanding of the intricacies of relationships. A wise, worthy to be seen film.