Before Sunset

Nine years on from Before Sunrise's Eurorail romance, Richard Linklater's talkative twosome meet up in Paris

Director: Richard Linklater

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy


Plot Summary: A sequel to 1995's Before Sunrise. Nine years after their initial meeting, Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) are reunited in Paris. Jesse is due to catch a flight back to New York but in the couple of hours they have, they walk and talk their way through the city.

Review: Revisiting an old holiday romance, nearly a decade on, isn't usually the smartest move, either in real life or at the cinema.

But while it's unlikely to win any new fans, Before Sunset won't disappoint anyone who enjoyed Richard Linklater's original.

Even in their thirties Jesse and Celine are still capable of talking up a storm, while Linklater, fresh from the commercial success of The School of Rock, clearly hasn't lost his edge as a writer.

Like its predecessor, Before Sunset is a film about ideas rather than events.

Reading the script for this film wouldn't be significantly different from watching the finished product - it's all about the words.

In the same way that Douglas Coupland's early novels were collections of bright ideas presented in only slightly fictionalized form, this movie, like its predecessor, is a philosophical debate committed to film.

This approach isn't for everyone. (The elderly Czech reviewer sitting next to me at the press screening grumbled and harrumphed through most of the film.) If you're looking for storyline and character development, look elsewhere.

The film often sacrifices realism in pursuit of the next big idea. Most obviously, people just don't talk like that.

Celine, in particular, is more literary device than rounded character, an American writer's idealized vision of a European woman.

She's French and works and lives (with a French boyfriend) in France, yet she speaks flawless American English, whether she's discussing lofty philosophical concepts, using obscure slang or talking to her cat.

Jesse and Celine also show none of the awkwardness or defensiveness you might expect from a couple brought together nine years after their first fling.

Because the two main characters lack credibility, Before Sunset isn't particularly romantic or sexy.

This is also a risky way to make movies: When the writing flags, Before Sunset quickly becomes embarrassing and/or pretentious, as if you're eavesdropping on two particularly verbose stoners.

Luckily, though, those moments are relatively few and the writers - Linklater, Hawke and Delpy are credited with the screenplay - mostly manage to keep their plates in the air.

Before Sunset Movie Times

PTV Rating: 3 out of 5

Czech Premiere: Thursday, July 15th, 2004
Czech Title: Před soumrakem
Runtime: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Video on YouTube

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