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Overall Rating
4.22

Awesome54.69%
Worth A Look: 20.31%
Average: 18.75%
Pretty Bad: 4.69%
Total Crap: 1.56%

4 reviews, 40 user ratings



Before Sunrise
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by Jay Seaver

"The rare GREAT all-talk movie"
5 stars

I must admit, I approached Before Sunrise with trepidation. I've liked Ethan Hawke in a few things (okay, mostly Gattaca) Same goes for Julie Delpy, who is also what one with a flair for understatement might call "really, really pretty". I've heard great things about the sequel, often followed by "but you've got to see Before Sunrise first". Director Richard Linklater frightened me, though - he's made a movie I loved (School of Rock), one I've liked (The Newton Boys), and two I've outright hated (Tape and Waking Life), and Before Sunrise had the reputation for being as talky and self-absorbed as the ones I despised.

Happily, Before Sunrise is more down-to-earth than those movies. The first scene was instantly familiar - someone riding a bus or a train, reading her book, but next to people who just Will. Not. Shut. UP! She moves to another seat, makes eye contact with the person across the way, and in that instant they're thinking the same thing, and wind up talking. On a whim, she gets off the train with him in Vienna, where he has a morning flight to catch, and they spend the night wandering around the city.

Linklater captures two simple, universal things here. First, it's fun to play tourist. Recent Hollywood seems to have lost sight of that, but there's a simple pleasure in vicariously experiencing a place you've never been and likely won't ever go. So as Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) wander around Vienna, we get to tag along, and while their attention will eventually turn more fully to each other, they don't fail to look at the city around them and enjoy it. They go to specific places that might not be first on the list of places considered essential destinations, but which bring forth stories and insights.

And, of course, Jesse and Celine fall in love. It's a peculiar romance, one which demands a powerful attraction to form after just a few minutes, and which they both know will become difficult to maintain within hours. This has probably happened to everyone, though not quite so powerfully as it does to Jesse and Celine. For me, it was freshman year of college and involved the friend of the girlfriend of someone else on the floor. I recall her probably being a senior in high school and very interested in the idea of learning the Native American ancestry of people who didn't realize they had any. Didn't hit me as hard or I just wound up being gutless at the end of the night (most likely a lot of both). This was at Worcester Polytechnic Instute, Daniels Hall, Floor 3 in the fall of 1992, if this sounds vaguely familiar.

The instant appeal of the situations, though, is less importnat than how much we like the two characters. Jesse and Celine talk a lot, and much of it is intellectual or philosophical, but it doesn't get tiresome because the words are not really the point. They're nice words, strung together into nice lines and exchanges, but the important thing is for the couple to just be talking with each other, that as long as they're talking or kissing or holding hands, they're connecting and getting the most out of the time they have together. The great joy is watching them talk, checking out their body language and tone and what their eyes are doing, as opposed to just listening to the words. Linklater balances the mood as carefully as his actors do; that the night must end is part of the background, but doesn't hang over the movie like a cloud, smothering the joy and sweetness of the pair.

I mentioned earlier that School of Rock was the other Linklater film I love; though they may at first seem almost completely dissimilar, they both have, at their core, people with strong passions and ideas coming together; they both feature innocent joy where some could find only cynicism. On the other hand, Waking Life, which actually makes use of these two characters, never rises above the level of an intellectual exercise.

Now that I've finally gotten around to watching this - I bought the DVD about a month ago and just kept putting it off until I saw that Before Sunset would be moving to the second-run theaters this weekend - I wish I'd done it sooner, and I can't wait to see the followup tonight.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1947&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/12/04 09:28:51
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.

User Comments

9/25/13 David Hollingsworth simple, but brilliantly honest 5 stars
8/05/13 Jon All fluff and no depth 2 stars
9/28/12 Quigley Arguably the most romantic film ever made. Who wouldn't want this to happen to them? 5 stars
6/11/11 Jack Lantern Great film, and the sequel is even better. 5 stars
1/23/11 PAUL SHORTT WATCHABLE CONVERSATION PIECE WITH ROMANTIC CHARM 3 stars
4/11/10 Cctv9 Great job! 5 stars
10/11/08 Annie G A must see for fans of ‘Before Sunset’ but expect to be mildly disappointed. 3 stars
9/15/08 MightyMichael Reid I loved it and it is the perfect romantic movie cannot wait to see the third one! 5 stars
5/04/07 Bunty To me, the movie was convincingly 'ordinary', perhaps our critic was expecting a melodrama 4 stars
3/17/07 Double M Boring?! stick to Van Damme movies, kids. This's a WONDERFUL romance about realistic people 5 stars
11/18/06 Indrid Cold Hard to imagine that anyone could make a better indie romance. 5 stars
8/15/06 wanderson i didn't like that movie, because people spoke all time, so it's so bad! 2 stars
11/26/05 NepruSmelu Mantalk about boring! Maybe I am to old but the dialogue was banal at best. Overated! 2 stars
11/19/05 Lisa Jochelson Good movie, you must be sober and not tired to watch this movie 3 stars
8/08/05 yuko great conversation and discussion of the two of them 5 stars
5/02/05 J K Rowling a little dull and boring 3 stars
1/26/05 Evimeleth Beautiful, enchanting, and fulfilling. A must see. 5 stars
12/15/04 Marce -This- is what poets mean when they use the word "love". 5 stars
12/02/04 Erin Waldrop Lots of talk but not bad. 4 stars
11/13/04 Monday Morning I haven't seen it but I think it's probably awesome. 5 stars
8/02/04 Ryan Semi-interesting, but some of Linklater's philosophical suggestiveness doesn't impress. 3 stars
6/25/04 Ray I dont really care so much for romance, but this is excellent 5 stars
4/03/04 Michael The finest, most intelligent and thoughtful film ever made. A true work of art 5 stars
3/28/04 john not exactly a cornerstone of romantic movies but nicely done 3 stars
3/17/04 Atanu Not very intelligent, posey, no wonder some people like it. 1 stars
1/24/04 daniela camero i love this movie! 5 stars
4/08/03 Ondra My favourite 5 stars
2/08/03 natasha_theobald unpredictable romance not afraid to be ambiguous, if not at times tedious 4 stars
1/21/03 tina excellent 5 stars
8/17/02 Dark Barøn Yep, it's romantic alright. 4 stars
7/10/02 Joffee exellent 5 stars
5/20/02 CJ One of the best romantic movies I've seen. 5 stars
4/04/02 KB The more I see it, the more I love it!! 5 stars
11/27/01 sdfr Two strangers fall in love in Vienna. Memorable 5 hanky weeper posing as art house romance. 4 stars
12/28/00 Andrew Trigg Touching film that should appeal to anyone who's not totally cynical! 5 stars
10/18/00 nam one of my favorites 5 stars
8/24/00 Michael Middleton A smart, touching film. One of the most emotionally honest movies I have ever seen. 5 stars
8/09/00 lina cheaply made film full of love, life, beauty , laughter and uncertainty 4 stars
7/02/99 Sleeper Anyone want to run away to europe with me? Vienna is to die for. 4 stars
4/12/99 Randall Perfect modern day romance 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Jan-1995 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Feb-1996 (M)




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