Before Sunset

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Vernon Dobtcheff, Louise Lemoine Torres
Director: Richard Linklater

Jesse (Ethan Hawke), a young American man and Celine (Julie Delpy), a young French woman met nine years ago at the height of their youth, full of romance and enthusiastic about the future. They were two strangers travelling on a train in Europe, who struck up a conversation that led to them spending an intimate night together and ended with a promise to meet again after six months in the very town where they spent their magical night, Vienna.

Nine years later Jesse is in Paris promoting a book he has written about an encounter he had with a French girl nine years ago in Vienna. As he is wrapping up his book tour in a little popular bookshop in Paris he feels someone’s gaze upon him and he turns to see Celine standing right there in the bookshop, staring at him. He promptly finishes off the promo session and meets her halfway across the room and they go for a coffee. On their way to the cafe she explains how she heard about his book and his imminent arrival in Paris to promote it and how she planned to see him there in that bookshop. Discussing their past, present and future, this meeting makes them realise just how strong a hold they still have on each other and how even after all those years neither one has forgotten the other. It’s as if they have been given a chance to talk about what might have been or indeed what might still be.

Ethan gives an excellent performance and is very believable as an author in a troubled marriage, which seems to mirror his own private life to some extent and comes across as almost being painfully real. Julie Delpy is equally good, especially in one scene where she gets very angry with him as the book stirred up emotions in her that she had tried to hide and ignore.

A sequel to the film BEFORE SUNRISE, the screenplay is co-written by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy and picks up very nicely from where the last film ended which explored the effects of a first true love and the aftershocks when it was not fulfilled. With good direction, a simple yet effective story, intriguing characters and with an ending that begs for more, this leaves the option of a further sequel wide open.

For those who have seen the first film then BEFORE SUNSET is a great follow-up, and for those who missed BEFORE SUNRISE when it was released in 1995, it’s worth seeing now, as it’s still very refreshingly real and simple especially for those who have experienced love.

4 out of 6 stars