Film-Forward Review: [BEFORE SUNSET]

Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Rotten Tomatoes
Showtimes & Tickets
Enter Zip Code:

Directed by: Richard Linklater.
Produced by: Anne Walker-McBay.
Written by: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke.
Director of Photography: Lee Daniel.
Edited by: Sandra Adair.
Released by: Warner Independent Pictures.
Country of Origin: USA. 80 min. Rated: R.
With: Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have another romantic - yet rueful - brief encounter, this time in Paris. They reprise their roles from Before Sunrise (1995), a Gen-X’er Summertime romance set in Vienna, where, departing at the train station, they promised to reunite exactly six months later. (To lessen potential disappointment, they exchanged no personal information.) Nine years later, Jesse is now an author on a book-signing tour at the Shakespeare & Company bookstore. He is stopped in his tracks when he sees Celine in the crowd. The question that hovers in the air is whether they rendezvoused again in Vienna.

As in the previous film, the dialogue often resembles an articulate and philosophical therapy session: she - “Memory is a wonderful thing if you don’t have to remember the past;” he - “If somebody were to touch me, I would dissolve into molecules.” There’s little they don’t know of each other. As before, there’s a lot of talk and very little action. Jesse is much more optimistic, while she, “an angry, manic-depressive activist,” has come to believe from experience that it is better not to have too much hope.

Filmed mostly in long takes, as in Before Sunrise, the focus is on their interactions, with the sights and sounds of Paris in the background. Although much of their conversations seem to come out of left field and don’t quite flow from one subject to the next, both leads share a loose, jovial camaraderie. Yet, the most moving moments are their silent reactions. Because their relationship has already been consummated, the sequel doesn’t have the built-in tension of its predecessor. But thanks to the actors' chemistry and Paris, Before Sunset has an irresistible pull. Kent Turner
June 25, 2004



Archive of Previous Reviews