I hope you wouldn’t consider this as a spoiler but at the end of Before Sunrise the characters Jessie (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delphy) decided to meet up in the same train station six months later before they part ways with him flying back to America and her back to Paris. Both of them didn’t bother to exchange phone numbers and communication. It was a love perhaps forever lost with 0% chance of meeting again. Six months later the French bitch didn’t show up. Nine years later the hapless American successfully published a best seller about that one magical night they’ve shared in Vienna. The book toured in Europe, the last stop was Paris, and with just a few hours before his flight they met.
What happens next is a plot so thin you can all write it on a table napkin. Two people talking in Paris. But no worries if you loved their first encounter then there’s no way you’re going to hate the 2004 sequel – Before Sunset – a tale of two lost lovers trying to catch-up all those nine years they’ve lost. Director Richard Linklater teamed up once again with his two creative leads (Hawke and Delphy did co-wrote the first film too but were not credited) for the second time visiting another installment of the unique Jessie-Celine love story. In Sunset we now have the two lovers now in their thirties and it’s amazing to see them matured not just the way they looked but the way their conversations have grown filled with experiences and ideas. The cinematography improved a lot offering us another picturesque view of the streets (and river) of Paris. The script got a lot meatier and broader as the film talked about climate change and environmental awareness upfront – topics I have only heard of the past couple of years. I could write a different post about how much the Sunset differed from Sunrise but simply put a lot have change since the first film. But there are things that remains the same: the undeniable natural chemistry between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy (they really look like they are real soulmates) giving us another unforgettable performances. Sometimes the best acting are done with no acting at all.
Now let’s answer the question, What if you had another chance with the one that got away? For Jessie and Celine they did what they shared best: they talked within an unfairly small amount of time. The two takes us once again into a beautiful, wonderful marathon conversation as if we are there with them and before the running time is over we’d get to know what happened to them over those long years of separation and how they came to be. But incredibly the more we learned about them the more we got to know about ourselves in the way we view issues in our lives, about love, our romantic fantasies, about the perfect relationships, how we should handle frustrations and the concept of a life of what-could-have-beens. It feels bad how much a single night could pave the way into years of secret bitterness and deep holes in their hearts. But the film mercifully teaches us about forgiveness and moving on. But at the same time holding on to that shared wonderful memory I think we all can relate. As what the film critic Dan Jardine of Cinemania.com “The film takes a miraculous healing turn at the end, and the characters rise above their ruefulness, and use it as a springboard into hope.”
This is a beautiful must-see movie. Period.
Possible sequel. Just recently I’ve read that Ethan Hawke is flirting with another Before sequel but there was no details of the project. But rumors is that the trio collaborated again for the screenplay and will start filming this very summer setting up for a 2013 release:
“All of three of us have been having similar feelings that we’re ready to revisit those characters. There’s nine years between the first two movies and, if we made the film next summer, it would be nine years again so we’re really started thinking that would be a good thing to do. We’re going to try write it this year.”
It’s a pleasant news for the fans of the franchise eager how the characters went on after another nine years. Definitely the Before series is truly one of those remarkable cinematic gems that successfully touches the heart of the viewers. A simple tale of love, with no big idea, nor budget and special effects… but just a pure testament of the power of heartfelt conversations.