Before Sunset (2004) starring Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy directed by Richard Linklater Movie Review

Before Sunset (2004)   4/54/54/54/54/5




80 mins


Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunset (2004)

Celine's Love Will Go On

There are those who loved "Before Sunrise", I didn't, I found it false, dull and pretentious. It is because I didn't enjoy it I put off seeing the sequel "Before Sunset" because I feared it would be more of the same but "Before Sunset" is one of those rare things, it's a sequel which is better than the original. And the reason why it's better is that it feels more natural and less pretentious picking up the story of Celine and Jesse 9 years after their magical night in Vienna with time having allowed them to grow as people.

9 years after that magical night in Vienna and Jesse (Ethan Hawke - Training Day) finds himself in Paris on a book signing tour having written a book about that magical night. It is during his last book signing that he comes face to face with Celine (Julie Delpy - The Three Musketeers) again and with a few hours to spare before flying back to America spend the time catching up, finding out why they never saw each other again as they planned and what has altered in their lives and ideologies.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunset (2004)

So "Before Sunset" runs with a similar idea as we follow Celine and Jesse as they spend a few hours in Paris talking about life. But the big change this time is that in those 9 years both Celine and Jesse have changed they have grown from pretentious young people looking for depth in everything to more worldly people. It's a big difference because gone is all the nonsense and deep philosophical discussions to more general talk about life, what they have been doing and where they are at now as in whether they are happy or not. It feels real, like two old friends catching up and falling back into that old friendship despite having not seen each other for 9 years.

Now what is particularly nice about this is that you can see how their characters have changed, becoming more worldly and less self absorbed. They are confident and comfortable around each other yet there are still elements to their old character still there. Subjects such as religion and sex crop up in their discussion yet whilst there is some philosophical depth to what they say it is broken up by a more jokey familiarity. It makes it a lot easier to watch because it flows as they literally spark off of each other like two old friends would, dropping in the occasional rude joke in their banter.

And as such the performances from Delpy and Hawke feel better this time around because their characters seem more normal. There is no longer that awkwardness as if they were unsure what to say and there is a confidence in the way Delpy and Hawke act around each other as if there is some deeper connection between them in real life.

But "Before Sunset" is not just about old friends catching up it has some depth to it because as we learn that magical night in Vienna changed them both. We discover that Celine has not been able to settle with another man, always finding a man but never keeping him whilst Jesse has got married but constantly compares what he has now with that one night. It basically has shaped them as humans and causes Jesse to wonder what would have happened if they had met up 6 months later as planned.

What this all boils down to is that "Before Sunset" is a pleasant surprise and a good movie. It is interesting and entertaining and most definitely less pretentious than "Before Sunrise" and it is because everything about it from the performances to the characters have grown and genuinely feel real.