DVD extras: Not much, just the theatrical trailer and a 10-minute segment called "on the set of Before Sunset", which intersperses bits of interviews between the two actors and the director. I think most people would find it mildly interesting but definitely not essential.
The film itself: "Before Sunset" is the sequel to "Before Sunrise," a wonderful little film from 1995. You don't have to see that film first, but I'd recommend doing so anyway, because it's very good, and because it increases the emotional impact of "Before Sunset".
If you have seen "Before Sunrise" and liked it, you will almost certainly like "Before Sunset." If you found it boring or otherwise unappealing, then skip "Sunset." The two films share a lot in common: an overwhelming focus on the two main characters, lots of good dialog, and a very sweet love story.
There are a few differences:
The acting is better in "Before Sunset." The Jesse character (Ethan Hawke) is more likeable in "Before Sunset" (some people found him slightly annoying in the prequel). In the sequel, there seems to be more tension: they only have 80 minutes rather than a whole night to figure out if they should be together. There's also more at stake: it's so rare in life to find someone with whom you truly connect, and if you let them go, it's even more rare to get a second chance with them later.
Many people who really liked the prequel said that seeing the sequel gave them the sensation of visiting old friends. I felt this too.
I *URGE* you to be very careful about reading other user reviews. Most reviews I've seen give too many hints about the ending.
Those of you who have already seen this film may be interested in discussing the ending. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET, STOP READING NOW!
*** SPOILER ALERT! ***
Most people have an opinion about the ending of "Before Sunset." Some love it, some hate it, but most are frustrated by the ambiguity, at least initially. Do they stay together? Or does each of them return to their committed relationship?
We can't be certain what happens, but the writers (Linklater and the two lead actors) have given us some very strong clues.
In the final scene, the song playing on Celine's stereo is called "Just in Time," performed by Nina Simone. Simone is famous for singing very moving, haunting, sad songs. But "Just in Time" is quite happy: "Just in time/I found you just in time/before you came, my time was running low/I was lost/the losing dice were tossed/my bridges all crossed/nowhere to go/Now you're here and now I know just where I'm going/no more doubt or fear/I've found my way/For love came just in time/you found me just in time/and changed my lonely life."
Why do you think the writers picked that song? What do you think it tells us?
(It also might be interesting that Nina Simone was an American living in France. Jesse is American, will he move to France?)
In that final scene, Celine is dancing and playfully singing along with Nina Simone, while Jesse is smiling and enjoying her performance. The last thing Celine says to Jesse is "Baby, you're going to miss that plane," and the last thing he says to her is "that's right" (or something to that effect). Does this sound like how two people who love each other would act if one of them was about to fly away and they were never going to see each other again?
Maybe the ending is not so ambiguous, after all.
on May 5, 2005
"Before Sunset" is a lovely piece of film making that feels like an 80-minute exercise in eavesdropping on a conversation between two real, knowable people--not actors on the silver screen. The movie is a rarity in this age of fifty-million dollar budgets, graphic sex, extravagant sets, and cheesy special effects (none of which I particularly mind; "Sunset" is just a nice departure from the latest multiplex thriller). It never feels contrived, the way most movie romances do; the (abundant) conversation that makes the movie work is flowing and genuine. The characters seem real, not like paid actors at all (attribute that to Hawke and Delpy's perfect on-screen chemistry). I never got the feeling that either were just reciting lines from a script someone else had written (the director and two lead actors are given full writing credit; thus, the feeling of authenticity). This sentiment of realism holds particularly true toward the end of the film, when Celine angrily shouts at Jesse that he ruined things for her, that their night together nine years ago was as good as it'll ever be, and now she's forced to unfavorably compare everything to that. How can anyone act that without feeling it? I wondered.
As its prequel, "Before Sunrise," was nicely set in Vienna, Paris is a lovely backdrop for "Before Sunset," with (blissfully) nary a shot of the Eiffel Tower in sight and not a note of the typical "fall in love in Paris" accordion music. But the cafes, shops, cobblestone streets, and River Seine are all present in their authentic glory.
I thought the ending, in fitting with the rest of the film, was perfect. What ultimately happens is settled in my mind, which may vary from another's interpretation. Isn't it nice to be able to decide the outcome instead of being force-fed the answers? It will be a long time before I see another movie I enjoyed as much as "Before Sunset."
on August 8, 2004
Maybe I sound biased because Richard Linklater's 1995 film Before Sunrise is one of my ten or so all time favorite films, but this improved (and I thought that would be impossible!) sequel to an infinitely great film is truly the best film (so far) of 2004. The screenplay, co-written by director Richard Linklater and stars Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke, is probably one of the most refreshing of this decade. It succeeds on so many levels because of the development of this relationship and the fact that Delpy and Hawke have such a three dimensional knowledge of these complex characters-no, human beings. Fictional of course, but they are still the most humanistic screen "couple" I've ever seen.
Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), separated for nine years, are undeniably the soul mates often described in their conversations, the ones that dig deeper than small talk. On a book tour in Paris, where Celine now lives, Jesse finds her watching him through a window as he absentmindedly describes the book he has written, which concerns two fictional lovers who meet and spend a night together-quite obviously autobiographical, when the question is implied by an interviewer. From there on, the two reunite and spend a brief but unforgettable afternoon in Paris, wandering the streets.
The screenplay and direction are flawless. The dialogue and its delivery is so natural, so uncontrived I was convinced even more that these were real people that I knew. After all, I've waited nine years too (okay, not really, I only saw Sunrise a year ago). Linklater just observes all that is going on without overly glamorizing it. Delpy and Hawke take this dialogue and make it into their own-they are those Celine and Jesse as far as I'm concerned. Some of the best acting this year can be found in Sunset.
The city of Paris serves as a fluid and dreamlike backdrop to the graceful and powerful, bittersweet and engrossing talk. Sunset is well filmed, and embraces just enough of Paris, which in fact would be more noticeable upon the inevitable second viewing. This city has never looked better on the screen!
I liked the fact that both Jesse and Celine expressed their true feelings through an art form, he with a book, and she with a song. This clearly conveys the message that there still exists romanticism in each of them despite each characters' biting cynicism. Although they never once said a word along the lines of "I love you," you know throughout the entire film that they are still in love with each other. Maybe I am reading too deeply into this film, but I strongly believe that the first place that the two go, the café, is almost like a complete reenactment of the train sequence in certain ways-it is the beginning of their journey and each place is mutual ground where Jesse and Celine are not under pressure, but they can just talk without interruptions or worries about the past.
By the time the ending came around, I held back tears in my eyes-out of happiness for these characters. If a film can do that, it's a winner in my mind. Those last words of the film leave you wanting more, but they are also brilliant and have stuck out in my mind amidst the philosophy and deep discussions. I won't ruin it, but the ending is just so amazing because you know that something good is going to happen.
Do yourself a favor and see Before Sunset before it's too late, and then buy yourself the soundtrack as a memory of this beautiful film so that it is not forgotten until the DVD release.
THE VERDICT: **** (A)
BEFORE SUNSET is essentially a two-character conversation that speaks to the durability of ephemeral liaisons: moments of relationships no matter the length can impact lives in amazing ways. It is to the credit of Writers Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke that the impressions of the film BEFORE SUNRISE made nine years ago made such a lasting impact on these fine artists that they were able to create this 'sequel' in a way that speaks to each of us about events and memorable past moments.
Jessie (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) met in Vienna nine years ago and had a brief but romantic evening, ending with a pledge to meet again in a few months to recapture their night of love. Circumstances prevented that reunion, yet nine years later Jessie, now on a tour publicizing his latest novel (one which uses his encounter with Celine as the core for his story) meets Celine again and having only a few hours before his plane leaves for New York (around sunset), the two stroll Paris, pause in a cafe, and eventually go to Celine's Parisian apartment where Celine is invoked to sing one of her songs that in her way recalls the affair of nine years ago. Through all of this we learn how each life has changed and grown and how that 'before sunrise' moment altered each character's worldview. And we never know if Jessie meets his plane!
The extraordinary aspect of this film is the script, written in a manner that seems like the entire film is based on extemporaneous conversation. Unforced, unfettered by traditional love story telling methods, this film relies wholly upon the interaction of two very fine actors. The cinematography is seamless giving the feeling that the afternoon stroll and conversation was filmed in one sustained shoot.
The DVD is greatly enhanced by a conversation - with Richard Linklater who brings the whole film into focus, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy quietly demonstrating the depth of their talent both as actors, as conceptualizers, and as writers. This is a thinking person's film, but that is not to say it is not a beautifully romantic film. It is as rare a treasure as, say, 'My Dinner with Andre'. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, December 2004.
on June 28, 2004
I was lucky to catch a screening Before Sunset on June 26th. If you are a fan of the first movie, you will love this one as well. Warning-mild spoilers ahead. The plot is simple, Celine shows up at Jesse's book signing nine years after the first film takes place, he has just over an hour before he has to catch his flight back to the US. They of course, spend the time walking and talking and the film take's place in real time, about 70 mins. One of the brilliant things about the movie is to see how the characters have changed over time, they are the same people with nine years of life experience under their belts. They are less idealistic and slightly beaten down by life while still managing to retian some of their youthful idealism. The conversation starts off akwardly but they quickly find the same magical connection they had in Vienna, except both of them now appreciate how rare a thing that is. They discuss their one night in Vienna and who showed up six months later (one did, one didn't). They discuss their lives, the tiumphs and disappointments, the dreams met and the one's left unfulfilled. The conversation natually want's to become a "what if" discussion and both of them struggle against it trying to deal with what is rather then what might have been. One of the things I loved about the first film was the ambiguous ending. The ending of this one is even better. It doesn't cop out with the typical hollywood happy ending and manages to be completely satisfying while retaining the same ambiguity as the first one. In short, this is the rare film that isn't dumbed down for the masses and stays true to itself and it's characters. I highly recommend it.
on April 24, 2005
Almost a decade later two adrift souls reconnect after a literature soirée at one of Paris' infamous bookshops where cats and coffee belong to the mystique. These two individuals are Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) who now are wiser and simpler while their lives have actually become more complex. Despite the complications in their lives, their reunion awakens old emotions from a day in Vienna some nine years ago when they toured the city and each other. This time they only have a mere 60 minutes, as Jesse has to fly back to the United States like he did 9 years ago. With no time to lose they begin to converse, as no time has passed since last. Yet, both feel the pressure of time constraints, as they feel time breathing down their neck. This anxiety is caused by the ticking of time while they know that can only say so much, and they must wisely choose what to say.
Interestingly the story brings the audience through a short verbal venture that recaps what has happened to them during the time between now and when they were supposed to have met in Vienna after their first encounter. Through their personal narrations of what they have been up to, feelings and personal thoughts seep through the walls of tension that they both try to keep up in order to protect themselves and their presence. As the minutes evaporate, personal concerns filter through cerebral stress and anxiety that rests on a limited foundation of expiring time. An emotional distillation of verbal expression concentrates on what is important, yet they repress any emotional outburst, as they lean on their social and personal values. This becomes a balancing act between fear and desire, as they both care for one another they do not want to offend the other, yet they desire to tell what is eating them inside.
Delpy and Hawke perform in a brilliant manner, as they depict a delicate balancing act between what they desire and fear of loosing - each other. The director Richard Linklater depicts the meeting with intense verbal outlet and touching delicacy where the honesty of words are covered in a jumble of emotion that confuses and bewilders both. This is where the true brilliance of the film rests, as Linklater captures the essence of the reunion. They desire each other, yet cannot say, as fear of possible pain that could visit them again if sudden erotic feelings were expressed. Visualized pauses and awkward silence illustrates the duality of the moment where genuine emotion and logic crashes into the wall of apprehensive tension. Nonetheless, random moments of Freudian feelings pop up without warning, which lightens up the mood between Celine and Jesse. These moments depict the subconscious ability to surprise where repressed honest feelings infiltrate the anxious consciousness.
Throughout the film Celine and Jesse seem to be on the move while knowing of the near impending separation. This constant movement provides a visual unrest that enhances the lovelorn anxiety within the story, which also transfers genuine empathy for the characters. Cleverly, Linklater captures the unrest, as they walk, travel by car and boat, and feel that they must gain as much as possible from their limited time together. Simultaneously, there is an internal struggle within one of them, which seems to want to depart in fear of experiencing the same pain again. Yet, they hold onto the moment while learning more about each other's pain and suffering.
There is a continuous level of serenity within the story that Linklater captures by filming the story of a summer evening in the Paris sun. The friendly atmosphere between Celine and Jesse combined with the easy flow of the camera from location to location without any sudden movement helps to induce this tranquility. The calmness within the story suggests that there is something special going on between Celine and Jesse, but maybe it is too late, as they already have their lives in Paris and New York. Nonetheless, the unbroken serenity provides a notion of something special, yet it also seems as if this calmness stirs up strong emotional currents from the past, which could be very hurtful. The story does not provide any climatic moments. It merely continues, as the clock keep ticking pressuring them about the expiring time.
Before Sunset is a wonderful film about moments and opportunities in the light of signs and symbols that offer a chance to see the truth--the truth of what one wishes and desires while time rapidly warns that there is no time to loose. An inner voice whispers, carpe diem, while logic tells one to ponder the long term effects. This occurs while wisdom offers a middle path where one should follow one's own heart without listening to fear, or temporary pleasure. All of this is shrewdly tailored in a cinematic experience that takes brilliant consideration to script, cinematography, performances, and mise-en-scene, which in the end presents truly great cinematic experience.
on July 26, 2005
I was captivated with every moment of this film. I loved it so much that when I saw it for the first time in the theatre, I went back to see it again a few nights later. I love films about conversation but this one will go down as my all time favorite. The acceleration of both their lives was perfect, believable and exactly how I would have imagined them, that many years later. The missed meeting at the train was handled as perfectly as it could be. The way the film handled integrating the previous story into the present made this film a complete package (but of course I went back immediately and viewed my DVD of Before Sunrise).
I bought this film as soon as it was released to DVD. It is such a feelgood film for me...a beacon of hope, a quiet love poem, a spark of light in a dark world.
It is so real it almost makes one feel voyeuristic watching it. Which is part of the unfolding surprise.
And that ending. There will never be an ending to a movie that will compare to this one. I was left smiling for days...remembering.
Thank you for this beautiful film.
on December 5, 2004
This is a love story about two people meant for each other, an honest to goodness written in the stars kind of love, but who are thwarted by modern life. It's a simple, sad story told with a refreshingly unique and seamless style.
It's really an amazing, different movie. I was impressed, I mean it's basically an 80 minute conversation, but you get so engrossed in it you don't notice. It moves so fluidly and naturally it's literally like reconnecting with old friends and spending a few hours with them. Achieving this, the filmmakers don't need anything else but words and actors to bring them to life. A little aside, I love how they'll use the long takes but then cut briefly to a closeup or another shot to keep any unnecessary tension away from the experience.
The acting is completely natural, often disarmingly and remarkably so, there is nothing to suggest that they are acting as they are so lifelike and realistic. These characters are incredibly real and deep and hurt, but it's not heavy-handed or overt in any aspect. The presence of a fate and destiny thwarted haunts us and them. Julie Delpy is delightful, but I think it is Ethan Hawke who is really transcendent in this. I loved his performance immensely.
This is a bittersweet nearly heartbreaking film, but not really that depressing as it's not in the least heavy or dark. It's just beautifully done all around and is often a heck of a lot of fun to watch. And Paris has never looked better.
I'd highly recommend it (and I hope it gets a Best Original Screenplay nomination).
on September 18, 2004
When I read that writer-director Richard Linklater had made "Before Sunset" - a sequel to his 1995 film, "Before Sunrise" - I remember thinking something along the lines of "oh, brother," only not quite as nice.
"Sunrise" is a great little movie about an American boy and a French girl, Eurail travelers, who meet on a train, hit it off and spend one great day together wandering around Vienna. They talk up a storm, fall hard for each other but then finally go their separate ways.
It's a perfectly balanced little entity, like a Hemingway story or a great omelet or "Astral Weeks," and it absolutely positively did not require a follow-up. Sometimes it's better to leave young love a memory than to mess with it.
So imagine my surprise when I saw "Before Sunset" and realized that ... it's better than the original. It's also the first movie I've seen in a long time that was over before I wanted it to end.
Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (who co-wrote the script with Linklater) reprise the roles of Celine and Jesse, who this time meet again in Paris nine years after their first encounter. They're grown-ups, now, both past 30 - her eyes have become more complicated and he looks a bit gaunt, with lines on his forehead and a wedding ring on his left hand. But after a slightly too-good-to-be true reunion they're off and talking again, catching up each other (and us) on what they've been doing for the past decade. Their meeting answers some old questions but also presents new dilemmas.
Fair warning: This is a movie about conversation. It's relatively short but it's basically more than an hour of a single dialogue between two people who are fairly interesting but who, more importantly, are interested in each other. That's it. And that might be the wrong cup of tea for some, but others may find that it hits them just right, particularly if they're fans of the first film.
That doesn't mean viewers need to have seen "Sunrise" in order to appreciate "Sunset," however. Though not the romantic lark its predecessor was, it is a more mature, wiser and, as such, sadder little omelet.
on July 5, 2004
I just came back from the theatres after watching "Before Sunset" and OMG, my mind is officially blown. I went in with high expectations, and all of them were met, then some.
First of all I've always been a huge fan of "Before Sunrise", considering it to be the best romantic movie in history. That said, I'm delighted to announce that "Before Sunset" is a sequel completely worthy of its matchless predecessor. I think I speak for all fans of "Before Sunrise" that we never expected to see a sequel, and that this movie is a dream come true.
Everything that made the first movie so great is duplicated here, but in a fresh and engaging way. Star-crossed but estranged lovers Jesse and Celine are reunited after 9 years in Paris, and we are invited to follow them along in a voyueristic, real-time conversation for a little more than an hour. Like the first movie, Before Sunset is really just one long conversation. If that sounds boring, don't be fooled. Director Linklater knows his stuff; this is his way of doing thangs, and he does it well. It's perhaps a big artistic gamble, but it works, just as it did for the first movie.
The conversation begins somewhat mundane and chit-chatty, but it only adds to the realism, and gradually builds in crescendo as Jesse and Celine slowly reveal to each other what they REALLY want to say, yet are afraid to. There were really very few dull moments as the conversation is richly layered with multiple dimensions of meaning encoded in what is said, not said, and subtle body language. We find out that after all these years, Celine and Jesse are still very much in love with each other, and both are frustrated by both the past misfortunes that prevented their originally planned reunion in Vienna, and the unfortunate circumstance that makes their current reunion highly problematic. Yet all this is skilfully and subtly conveyed, and we are not beaten over the head with it, as a lesser director may have been tempted to do. The car-ride scene towards the end when Celine reveals her sadness and misery that Jesse is now married with kids was done brilliantly and with heart-breaking poignancy. Equally poignant was Jesse's "retort", revealing his recurring dream of the French girl he could never forget.
Both Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy make wonderful performances in this movie and have rich, kinetic chemistry with each other. We really believe that they are in love. However, I am a guy, so most of my attention was upon the certifiably radiant and gorgeous Julie Delpy. Delpy/Celine is any guy's dream girl. Smart, funny, insecure yet independent, and genuinely adorable. Her beauty is a down-to-Earth kind glowing with infinite softness and femininity. Plus there's the light but irresistible French accent thing going. I fell in love with her in the first film. After the second film I can barely endure the sweet misery. Hawke does a fine job too, creating a character I truly like and identify with. We see the difference between Jesse's idealistic romanticism and Celine's cautious cynacism, yet we also see the undeniable link between them that is the source of their love.
Jesse has only about an hour to spend with Celine before his flight leaves, and as the film progresses both the audience and the characters feel the rising dread of the inevitable. Once again, everything is done with minimalist, artful grace. But we see and understand nevertheless with crystal clarity what is going on in Jesse's mind as he desperately attempts to squeeze out every possible extra precious second he can with Celine. We are on the edge of our seats biting our nails as the end nears, the tension of the unsaid hanging over us and Jesse like a dark menace. What will Jesse do? Will he abandone his (albeit dysfunctional) marriage and be with Celine? Will he get on that flight back to New York? What makes the audience so enthralled is that not only do we not know what is going to happen, it's obvious that neither does Jesse. Jesse is right there with us in real time, the battle of desire vs. obligation raging in his mind. He tries so desperately to buy more time, perhaps to decide, or perhaps just to see what he is going to do, as if watching his own actions unfold outside of himself.
The ending of "Before Sunrise" was brilliant and unforgettable, but ultimately poignant and ended on a "downer" tone. I know that it was supposed to be an ambiguous ending in which cynics know they never met at the appointed place, and romantics believed they did. But Celine's little sad chuckle to herself at the end of the film seemed a very clear indication, at least to me, that they never kept their promise. That said, the ending of Before Sunset was utterly sublime and genius, one of the most satisfying conclusions to a movie I have ever seen. It is technically ambiguous (keeping a coherent style with the first movie), but it appears to me to be obvious that the romantics win!!! Ha ha true, you may choose to interpret it another way, but to me the tone was quite different from the ending of the first movie, this one being an undeniable "upper". Ironic then, that in the first movie Jesse and Celine (apparently) have sex twice whereas in this one they don't even kiss. I was clapping hard and screaming after the ending. It completely satiated me. And if Richard Linklater is reading this review, I'd like to first thank him so much for making such a peerless duo of films, and secondly I must demand that he NEVER MAKE A THIRD INSTALLMENT!!! Don't you DARE make a "Before Sun[blank]"!!! Celine+Jesse forever!!! DO NOT MAKE ANOTHER one of the series, unless you are going to show Celine and Jesse happily married in Paris with Celine pregnant lying in Jesse's bed. If they didn't end up together I don't want to hear about it! I like the ending to this one and I am satisfied with my interpretation!
The only weakness of "Before Sunset" is that I don't really think it works if you didn't see the first movie. This is especially problematic since the first movie, although an excellent cult favourite, was not widely seen by audiences. Yes, even if you've never seen Before Sunrise, you will enjoy this movie. However I estimate that something around 60% of Before Sunset's emotional impact will be lost, as well as references to events in the first movie. In fact the two are so inseparable in a storyline perspective that I now see them as one long movie (or conversation). Thus, if you're going to see Before Sunset in theatres (and I HIGHLY recommend that you do), why don't you give yourself the full experience and rent "Before Sunrise" beforehand? There has never been a better excuse ;-)