Before Sunset

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/07/2004

Four out of Five stars

Running time: 81 mins

A worthy sequel to Before Sunrise, this is a thoroughly engaging, well written film with perfect performances from Hawke and Delpy.

Richard Linklater’s 1995 production Before Sunrise was a charming film that struck a chord with anyone who was in their early 20s at that time, as well as being responsible for a huge rise in Inter-rail tickets that year. Probably.

It starred Ethan Hawke as Jesse, a young American man who met a French girl, Celine (Julie Delpy) on a train and spent the day wandering around Vienna with her, discussing Life, The Universe And Everything. Tantalisingly, the film ended with the two characters not exchanging contact information but instead agreeing to meet up in six months, leaving the audience to speculate on whether or not they ended up together.

Guaranteed To Have Emotional Impact

Now, nine years later and hot off the success of School of Rock, Linklater has made a long-awaited sequel, picking up with the characters in real time, nine years later. Jesse is now a successful author, on a promotional tour of Europe.

While giving a reading and attending a book-signing in Paris, he finds Celine waiting for him and the pair of them wander around Paris for the afternoon, catching up with each other and again discussing The Important Issues. The result is a thoroughly engaging film that will delight fans of Before Sunrise and is guaranteed to have an emotional impact on anyone in their early 30s.

It isn’t exactly necessary to have seen Before Sunrise (there are helpful flashbacks, just in case) to enjoy Before Sunset, but it’s definitely worth seeking it out on video beforehand. The flashbacks, however, do serve to highlight one of the film’s only wrong notes: Celine tells Jesse that apart from his deeply furrowed brow, he’s hardly changed a bit, though we can see that he’s almost worryingly gaunt and wiry these days.

Wonderful Performances

The performances are wonderful: Hawke and Delpy co-wrote the film with Linklater so it’s perhaps not surprising that they inhabit the characters so comfortably. Delpy, in particular, gives a performance that’s reminiscent of Diane Keaton circa Annie Hall. The cinematography, courtesy of Lee Daniel, is also gorgeous, though it’s presumably not too hard to make Paris look beautiful.

It’s enjoyable enough just to wander around Paris with these characters, but what lifts the film into something special is the thrilling sense of possibility that envelops their every sentence and gesture, the idea that their whole lives could change just by saying the right thing at the right time.

There are also a couple of moving, deeply romantic scenes that are superbly directed and beautifully played by the actors. Finally, without giving anything about the ending away, suffice it to say that, although it’s rather abrupt, it’s an entirely appropriate end to the film.

In short, this is quite possibly one of the best films of the year: romantic, thought-provoking, possibly even life-changing and how often do you get to say that about a film? Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Before Sunset
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Content updated: 22/11/2019 08:38

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