Review: Before Sunset

Richard Linklater (2004)

: Before SunsetIt was a nice break after work to take an 80 minute trip to Paris, walking the city streets, riding down the Seine and eavesdropping on Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. In this sequel to Before Sunrise (1994), the two lovers who met on a train to Vienna and shared a romantic night together meet for the first time nine years later. Sunset follows the same format as Sunrise, where the two characters naturally converse about everything from the environment to the impact their brief time together had on their lives in the subsequent years.

This is a film where nothing happens and yet a lot is going on. These two characters just talk. They move from book shop to cafe, to the streets, to a boat and a car. And they just talk. If the thought of that makes you scream “pretentious” I don’t blame you, but it’s not. They talk like real people, they act like real people and you quickly get caught up in their relationship again, wondering where it will lead. Their conversation, for the most part, seems natural; there were only a few moments when I thought it felt a bit over-dramatic and scripted. The film is shot in real time–the eighty minutes that they spend with each other, you spend with them.

Listening to the couple in Before Sunset reflect on their mutual and individual past raises interesting things to think about, both in the context of the film and in general, about memory, reflection, loss, choices, independence, communication, rationalization, happiness and conversation. And at the very least, it’s a refreshing change to see a mainstream film without a single gunshot, explosion or car chase. [****]

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