Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy make magic again, reprising their Before Sunrise roles of Jesse and Celine and reuniting with director Richard Linklater (School of Rock) in this engaging tale of love and renewal. When Jesse and Celine first met in the mid ’90s, their few hours together in Vienna were spontaneous and life-altering. Nine years later, lightning strikes twice. they unexpectedly meet in Paris…and have only one fading afternoon to decide if they should share their tomorrows. Smart, witty, real and unfolding largely in real time to heighten its immediacy, Before Sunset glows with the moments that are every heart’s greatest adventure.
Before Sunset 8.0
As the title suggests, this movie is a follow-up to ‘Before Sunrise’. It reacquaints us with the same characters, Celine and Jesse, nine years later, on yet another day – or what happens to be, in this case, only an afternoon.
Here we find two older, clearly emaciated people who have had their fair share of life experiences; the freshness of youth seems gone, and in its place resides weariness, bitterness and cynicism. Needless to say, what follows is a series of conversation filled with pain, regret and disillusionment. Good times.
Are the characters less romantic now, or are they just more “grown up” or grounded in their perspective? It’s a hard question to answer because it depends on the viewer’s own point of view about love, romance and relationships; some might find them sad, if not pathetic, while others might find it easier to connect with them.. Either way, the hurt feels real and it’s easy to believe.
For me, however, the magic was gone. The movie was good for different reasons than the first one was, as they tackled more serious subjects than just relationships – such as the environment and the political state of affairs in a post-9/11 world. But that was also part of the problem, because it made the movie heavier, harder to love – it was so full of sharp edges and imperfections.
What didn’t help were flashbacks to the original movie, because it made the contrast all the more apparent; you couldn’t help but to notice the blights in this new dynamic. Furthermore, there were minor continuity errors along the way. And the ending annoyed the snot out of me: it felt like they were setting us up for another sequel – whereas the first one could breathe on its own, as a standalone story.
Particularly frightful in this one was watching the skeletal Ethan Hawke, who looked just about as healthy as Christian Bale did in ‘The Machinist’; he was just plain scary-looking. I’m not sure if it was a deliberate choice for the role, or if life actually took its toll on the guy, but he looks he’s had a really really hard existence (must suck to have been married to Uma Thurman, huh?)
Anyway, Im not sure if it’s because I adore the first movie and its glow carried over in the sequel, but I give it a high(ish) rating. I mean, the concept and the dialogue are still quite appealing, even if I wasn’t under this one’s spell.
…I’m sure that, if seen as a separate entity, as a stand-alone film, though, it would probably not hold up as well.