January 27, 2014

Before Sunset

Richard Linklater, 2004
The sequel to Before Sunrise and the second in Linklater's Before Trilogy, the film is a continuation of the romance between American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French Celine (Julie Delpy). This film follows the pair in Paris as Jesse is on a tour promoting his book about their life changing night together in Vienna.

Warning: You may not want to read on if you haven't already seen Before Sunrise. It's difficult to examine this picture without revealing some important details, which going into it blindly certainly enriches the whole experience.

Before Sunset leaves you with quite a cliffhanger. You assume Jesse and Celine meet at the train station in Vienna exactly six months later. They did not exchange any phone numbers, addresses of any sort. And you want the details early. Linklater knows this, and in knowing so perfectly constructs the beginning portion of the film. Sunset maintains the momentum that Sunrise left off with. Two people with such a natural attraction to each other. Love's strange coincidences. And it also really captures the growth and evolution of Jesse and Celine as people. It's nine years later, truly an eternity when it comes to one's own development - especially someone in their twenties & thirties. Jesse continues to have a more dreamy vision of the world, filled with optimism. But now it is more focused, more organized. Celine continues to be concerned about the world around her, but now she is more pessimistic and more cynical. There is more conviction behind her beliefs. Sunset builds off of the original model of the first film, and lets it grow. Instead of walking the streets of Vienna, it's two people in their personal Parisian Playground. They walk through the city streets, and you get a sense they wish they could stop time together. And if only they could. Once again the clock is ticking, and time is working against them. Perhaps these movies need that dynamic. It adds that sense of urgency. Father time may be the one villain to the Before Trilogy? Linklater is clearly confident with Hawke and Celine, filming their conversations in long takes (one of which being 11 minutes long). Once again the dialogue is heavy, but the script really dissolves. Their conversations feel so natural. It's one of those films that grabs you early, puts you in the presence of Jesse and Celine without being conspicuous. When it ends you'll be sitting there wondering what happened to the time just as they do. 

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