Before Sunset (USA; 80 min.)

directed by: Richard Linklater
starring: Ethan Hawke; Julie Delpy
Before Sunset
Chris says: "When I first heard that Richard Linklater was making a sequel to BEFORE SUNRISE, I thought, 'What a terrible idea.' I remember finding the first film pleasant, but not particularly wanting to sit through it again (whereas I have no trouble watching SLACKER, DAZED AND CONFUSED, and WAKING LIFE over and over ). And Ethan Hawke was so annoying in TAPE that I wasn't too keen on seeing him in another film where he's in just about every frame.

"Well, if anyone can pull off the implausibly greater-than-the-original sequel, it's Linklater. BEFORE SUNSET reunites Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) for the first time nine years after their initial encounter. Jesse, now a bestselling author (his book must be better than Hawke's!) is in Paris wrapping up a European tour. Celine surprises him by appearing at a reading he's giving at a bookstore, and they have barely an hour to hang out and catch up before Jesse has to hop a plane back to the States.

"What follows transpires in real time and long takes. As Jesse and Celine walk through sunlit streets to a cafe, through a garden path, along the Seine in a tour boat and in a cab, we hear and see how time has changed and weathered them. We're let in on the most intimate details of their accomplishments and disappointments, dreams and desires, impulses and hesitations. The screenplay, written by Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy seems improvised at times, yet it's also incredibly complex--watch for body language as well as intricate shifts in tone.

"Three things in particular make this a great film: Hawke and Delpy's spot-on chemistry, Delpy's outstanding performance, and Linklater's agility in opening up this seemingly conceptually limited premise and bringing it to an unexpected, indefinite but perfectly lovely conclusion. 5 cats"

Janet says: "I'd be interested to hear about this one from others more knowledgeable
about Linklater's work. My history with him: never saw SLACKERS rented DAZED AND CONFUSED but turned it off after fifteen minutes, didn't see BEFORE SUNRISE, loved WAKING LIFE and saw it twice. I wish I had rented BEFORE SUNRISE prior to seeing this sequel, because I may have had more feeling and empathy for the characters. As it was, my most prevalent response was feeling constantly distracted by Ethan Hawke looking so much like my friend David Knudsen.

"I'm all for a conversation movie, but I didn't find the two people that interesting for age 32. They seemed bland to me, and their talk seemed too surveyistic to be real. In a real walking-and-talking conversation the topic doesn't change as often as the scenery; there are two or three big topics that you get stuck on and go deeper with. I also thought they could have been funnier.

"Ethan Hawke seems limited in expression and gesture. Did anyone else find his interview in the bookstore a real dud for the amount of attention he was receiving? Delpy impressed me as the far better actor, and I liked her singing voice. The story became a little deeper for me when Celine revealed how unhappy she was, and the ending was very cute.

"3 1/2 cats; could have earned 4 1/2 with David Knudsen in the role"

Michael says: "** MILD SPOILERS **

"Richard Linklater is a talented filmmaker. He can make really good films about people just talking to each other. That’s no mean feat. Let me confess up front that I never saw BEFORE SUNRISE, and I have no idea whether that fact colors my viewing of BEFORE SUNSET. I would go out on a limb by saying that it doesn’t really have that much of an affect. I new the basic premise of BEFORE SUNRISE, and I certainly gleaned much more by watching BEFORE SUNSET. While there was quite a bit I liked about BEFORE SUNSET, overall I have to say that I was pretty unimpressed, and unfortunately for Mr. Linklater, I think it’s all Ethan Hawke’s fault.

"Let me start with what I liked. Julie Delpy was terrific. I found her performance to be very real and comfortable. She was spontaneous, she was funny, her emotional swings seemed very natural, and she can sing too! I found the progression of the story overall to be quite realistic. Two people who spent one glorious, romantic night together 9 years ago, happen upon each other again. Their behavior, their conversation, their feints and parries all rang true. If only Jesse had been played by someone else…

"Okay, let’s talk Ethan Hawke. It’s unexplainable and irrational. I can’t stand him. I really can’t stand to watch him. I haven’t actually seen him in anything for quite a while (not counting his one scene in WAKING LIFE, I have avoided him ever since I first developed my dislike for him in REALITY BITES) so I was hoping that he had outgrown whatever I found so irritating in him (or perhaps I’d outgrown it.) Not so. Is it the smug pretentiousness he radiates, especially when he’s trying to be sincere? Or is it that artificiality in his every action that can’t allow me to see him as a character? Whatever the reason, I can’t get past it, and it’s unfair to Mr. Linklater’s film.

"In fact, I was thinking that I found much of the philosophizing in BEFORE SUNSET to be rather annoying and pretentious. On further thought, I decided that wasn’t the case. As in WAKING LIFE, I rather enjoyed the philosophizing, and that it was the fact that Hawke was delivering half of it that I was so put off. Had another actor (almost any actor) been in Hawke’s place, I think I might have really enjoyed the film.

"Of course, as I have mentioned to many people, I also have trouble with romances that propose that you can develop a connection with another person (which I do believe) and then have that connection make you unable to live a happy, productive life without that other person (which I find a bit twee.) Without going into too much of BEFORE SUNSET’s plot, about ¾ of the way into the film, I started to get really annoyed with the turn the film was taking. There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia, and the “what if’s” it brings. But this is not my idea of romance… being stuck on the past and being unable to move forward… after years! Is this a powerful romance? Or is it being pathetic? I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s something that really bugs me in most romantic stories. Perhaps I should see a therapist on why it bothers me so much. So I guess it’s not entirely Mr. Hawke that takes points away from this movie.

"I know people really enjoyed this film, and I do think it was well made, pretty inventive, sometimes fascinating, often funny, but those two big reasons made it imporssible for me to enjoy. 2 ½ cats

Thom replies: "This almost makes me feel you must have slept through half the film. I'm not a huge Ethan Hawke fan but at least he was better than his ex-wife in the execrable KILL BILL crap. I thought it was near the top of the most romantic films I've ever seen. Neither of the two characters were stuck in the past and both had gone on quite admirably since they first met. The Hawke character had just had his novel published to great acclaim. Delpy was a world class environmental advocate. This first film made it very clear that these two people were very much in love and perfect for each other. That by pure chance they hadn't connected again was the beauty of the plot. This 2nd chance was mere coincidence that neither one thought possible. Hawke had married a lovely woman and Delpy had a partner that she quite liked. But this magical 2nd encounter that brought out so much of what they felt they had missed in such a beautiful way was magic of the first order. The end was really no guarantee that anything about their life would dramatically change but the hope of it doing so is what keeps any true romantic alive. I was moved to great joy and hope by the film. The dialogue was also of the highest order."

Tom says: "Blah blah blah blah nothing happens nobody cares. Entertaining, well-paced but empty. The evil twin of GOOD BYE DRAGON INN."
Bruce says: "Many viewers are off put by films that are totally dialogue driven, films that are essentially novels on video. I, for one, love the concept. The prototype was the quirky MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. Richard Linklater contributed to the genre with his BEFORE SUNRISE, the story of a chance encounter in Vienna between students Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). They meet, spend hours together roaming throughout Vienna and suspect they are falling in love. They agree to meet six months later providing they each have feelings for one another.

"BEFORE SUNSET is the story of Jesse and Celine nine years later. He has been unhappily married for several years, has a four year old son he adores and is on a whirlwind book signing tour of Europe to promote his bestselling novel based on their night together in Vienna. She has a job she loves and is committed to but has been fairly unlucky in love. They unknowingly spent time together living a few blocks apart in New York City. As Jesse wraps up a speaking engagement in Paris, Celine walks into the bookshop.

"As in the first film, Jesse and Celine talk non-stop for almost one and one half hours. The beauty of the film is that their dialogue flows so naturally that it is hard to believe you are watching a film rather than eavesdropping. Their repartee is that of two people who have a rare and totally natural rapport. They dart back and forth with observations, memories and philosophies. They share unfulfilled dreams and persistent nightmares. They interrupt one another, changing the subject whenever something just said triggers another idea. They excite one another. They joke, they tease, they flirt, and each wonders what life for them would have been had they followed through on the plans for their six month rendezvous. For most of us, conversations like this happen way too few times in our lifetime.

"This film is the product of a magical collaboration. The writing credits for BEFORE SUNSET are shared by Linklater, Delpy and Hawke. Perhaps Delpy and Hawke’s participation is what makes the dialogue seem so natural and unforced. Hawke and Delpy are excellent actors although at times it is hard to imagine they are acting. The flashbacks to BEFORE SUNRISE remind us what a difference nine years can make. Then, he was very handsome and she was lovely and delicate. Now, both look rather shopworn, he a little more than she.

"BEFORE SUNSET made me think of my own life, the many friendships and romances, and the hours I’ve spent just talking. Some of the best hours...5 cats