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Overall Rating
4.51

Awesome76.67%
Worth A Look: 14.44%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 1.11%
Total Crap: 7.78%

7 reviews, 48 user ratings


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Before Sunset
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by Jason Whyte

"From then...to now."
5 stars

Richard Linklater is an interesting fellow. Here is a filmmaker who tries his best not to pidgeonhole himself into a particular category. You would never guess that the same person who made the indie sensation "Slacker", the cult classic "Dazed and Confused" and the smash kid-friendly comedy "The School of Rock" would also be the man responsible for "Before Sunrise", one of the best romantic films ever made. Linklater must have the same aspirations as someone like Ang Lee or even the late Kubrick: try new subjects every time.

Never would I think, however, that a sequel to "Sunrise" would ever be made, but here we are in 2004, and it has been done. "Before Sunset" is a beautiful curiosity, a gift to anyone who saw and admired the 1995 film. I was certainly one of them (discovering it on laserdisc in 1996 after missing its one week theatrical run) and quickly becoming awe-struck at the natural, honest characters and the way they talk. In that first film, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Celine (Julie Delpy) on a train in Europe. He's heading home to the U.S. the next morning, and Celine is heading back to Paris. Their talk instantly connects them, and they agree to spend the night walking and talking in Vienna. The two connect even further and they agree to meet six months later right where they were last standing.

Jesse has written a fictional book about their night nine years ago and has been doing a book tour in Europe. When his last stop is in Paris, Jesse notices Celine watching him from the back of the book store. He is amazed to see her standing before him again. She is too. Jesse has limited time before his plane departs back to New York, but the two head out of the bookstore to get a cup of coffee. It's obvious to us now that from the ambigous ending of the first film, Jesse and Celine didn't meet back in Vienna. "I was going to, but my mother got sick. I was planning to," Celine says, then asking: "Did you go back?" After some hesitation, he admits that did. "I owed my dad 2000 dollars," Jesse adds.

This follow-up is so beautiful and addictive that we are quickly transported out of the theater and directly aside these two people again. The first film was remarkable in how it held our attention on these two people wandering and talking in a place that was foreign to both of them, and here we see them as a bit more mature than their kid-like personas. And they certainly have a lot to talk about.

The free-flow of dialogue out of the mouths of these two characters is unforgettable, and the performances by Hawke and Delpy are just as sharp as they were in the first. Hawke has such an aloof personality, and I love how he casually pokes fun at Celine when responding to a serious question. Delpy is so beautiful and sincere, but also overwrought with hidden pain about her past. These are the only two major players in the cast, with the beautiful backdrop of Paris as the only other character. Linklater moves all of the action in real time, from the bookstore to the street, to the coffee shop, through a garden path, down onto a river path, onto a boat, off into a chauffer and all the way to Celine's apartment.

Both of Linklater's films touch upon a feeling that I have experienced many times in my life and I'm sure many others have. You meet someone in a place that is not your home, spend time with them despite the clock ticking against you, and that shock and pain that fills you when you part ways. What's even more gut-wrenching is if your paths cross again. What happens at that moment? How do you react? Is the memory still there, or must you act more civil? And what of the past? Should things be any different than they are now?

The finale is something that I can't put into words. It doesn't explain directly, and it is not a conventional way to summarize, but it is a perfect note. It ends on a feeling rather than just wrapping it all up. The story still continues as the credits roll, and it lets us ponder what's next.

"Before Sunset" lasts only 80 minutes (over 25 minutes shorter than the first), but sets up, delivers and ends without a single false note. This is a remarkable achievement by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. And whether or not they choose to make another film on these two characters, we wish more romantic films could be within a fraction of these.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8925&reviewer=350
originally posted: 07/18/04 17:27:40
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/28/12 Quigley One of the best sequels ever made. There's nothing like the lovely art of conversation. 5 stars
6/11/11 Jack Lantern Brilliant and captivating. Possibly the best "romance" movie ever. 5 stars
10/01/08 Annie G The ultimate ‘they came to talk’ film, but actually quite enjoyable. 4 stars
5/12/08 Venere Thought provoking yet Romantic. They both become a lil too "jaded" at the end though. 5 stars
6/20/07 Dunedain The most amazing film in years 5 stars
6/02/07 Sam one of the films I could never forget 5 stars
5/21/07 Qaisar Janjua It makes you think and it is a great thing for a film. 5 stars
4/19/07 fools♫gold People don't change. 5 stars
3/17/07 Double M Fantastic sequel. realistic characters. Not for CGI-obsessed kids. 5 stars
11/26/06 Indrid Cold Amazingly, it's a completely satisfying continuation of the original. Kudos to Linklater. 5 stars
8/23/05 john williams One of the most interesting movies i've ever seen. conversations were done so real. 5 stars
8/13/05 Lily The rare sequel that is better than the first. Lovely ending. 4 stars
7/25/05 KAREN DE JESUS IT IS SO FANTASTIC..... I LOV\E EVERY WORD OF IT.... WITH JUST SIMPLE CONVERSATION..... 5 stars
5/16/05 JFK good movie, script and acting 4 stars
2/06/05 joanna saw it a month ago & still cant stop thinking about it 5 stars
1/23/05 Darryl Almost as good as "Sunrise," my only complaint being that it ended too soon! 5 stars
12/27/04 Steve I can't do this movie justice in one line...heck, in ten pages. 5 stars
12/13/04 ken purchase achingly beautiful 5 stars
12/07/04 Lily Talking never got better in a movie! 5 stars
12/06/04 Natasha Theobald I love the idea, I love the execution -- intimate and evocative 5 stars
12/05/04 Sid Savillo/Novelist/Scriptwriter That One Night Stand They Had was More Precious than Anything! 5 stars
12/04/04 nichole the movie is a total crap, it's a waste of money 1 stars
11/23/04 Ed Wood, Jr. So pretentious, cloying and self-satisfied I longed for the damn thing to be over. 2 stars
11/16/04 Dave Has a natural flow. If you've loved deeply once and disconnected it will have a certain ap 5 stars
11/14/04 tom This is romance, "new" love between the ears and over the years. Enchanting! 5 stars
11/02/04 alice a beautiful film, intelligent , for intelligent people, marvellues acting!!! 5 stars
10/05/04 julie brilliant 5 stars
10/01/04 Wendy I groaned out loud several times. 1 stars
9/10/04 Noah I loved it as much as "Before Sunrise" 5 stars
8/31/04 Steve Casper Great romance! 5 stars
8/25/04 martin unpleasant characters - cliched 1 stars
8/23/04 tina LOVED it. Can not put into words how much their story affected me 5 stars
8/06/04 Henry Soto Nice. 4 stars
8/02/04 FAnderson The couple's "true love" was not believable. 1 stars
7/29/04 Chopper3 Loved it 5 stars
7/24/04 Marce OMG! This is simply -the- benchmark on, smart, funny, touching and beautiful movie romance! 5 stars
7/21/04 Valerie Spentzos A pleasant change from Hollywood garbage, with sensitive acting and intelligent dialogue. 4 stars
7/20/04 Elizabeth Beautifully done! Brought a smile to my face and broke my heart at the same time. 5 stars
7/19/04 RMS This film was BOOOOOOOOOOORING! 1 stars
7/18/04 Cassandra Farrar good entertainment 4 stars
7/17/04 Christine was not disappointed 4 stars
7/09/04 Todd Fike Exceeds expectations 5 stars
7/09/04 JulieD It´s a really dumb movie. I loved the 1st one, though 1 stars
7/01/04 Darren Superb. The perfect follow up to a cinematic gem. 5 stars
6/30/04 Lori Not a chick flick! We BOTH loved it. He even said, "Let's rent the original." WOW 5 stars
6/30/04 Jan R Useless waste of my time, slow, dull, lifeless, amature film 1 stars
6/29/04 Kai Kirner Brilliant, intelligent, touching and wise... 5 stars
6/07/04 Trent Mitchell Great movie. I had a smile on my face the whole time. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Jul-2004 (R)
  DVD: 09-Nov-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  19-Aug-2004 (M)


Directed by
  Richard Linklater

Written by
  Richard Linklater
  Ethan Hawke
  Julie Delpy

Cast
  Ethan Hawke
  Julie Delpy



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