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7 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Before Sunset
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by Chris Parry

"If you loved Before Sunrise, you ain't seen nothing yet."
5 stars

I've always pounded away at Richard Linklater, possibly as much as any other director. I was puzzled by the success of Dazed and Confused, entertained but not captivated by Slacker, completely uninterested during Suburbia and Newton Boys, and Waking Life sent me to sleep several times. Though in recent times I've begun to see the light on Linklater's talents, one film on his early filmography that never lent itself to my ridicule no matter how hard I tried to find fault with it was Before Sunrise. A talky romance between a European woman (Julie Delpy) and an American tourist (Ethan Hawke) who have only twelve hours to get to know one another, the film has become somewhat of a cult classic among the romantic crowd. But it ain't a patch on the sequel.

Back in the early 90's, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy met on a train, walked the streets of Europe, chatted up a storm and then parted ways when sunrise came. The reason for their parting was that it was time for Hawke to catch his flight home, but the couple promised to meet again in six months and pursue a life of happiness.

There the film ended, leaving audiences to wonder if they kept their word or not. Linklater has undoubtedly been harassed by fans just about every day since to answer that question, and to his credit he waited a long time to put forward a reply. Before Sunset is exactly that, a beautifully filmed, wonderfully performed, infinitely matured sequel to the original that doesn't just capitalize on a little earlier success; rather it turns the earlier work into something even more important.

In the opening scene of Before Sunset, Ethan Hawke's character is asked questions at a signing of his new novel, based on his earlier romantic encounter. He's asked the question pointedy - did these two people meet up again after six months? His reply sets the sequel in motion to perfection; to give it an ending "would be to take the piss out of the whole thing."

It was at this moment that I realized how Linklater has matured as an artist. You could argue that just about any of his earlier works (even School of Rock) were bold, original, grounbreaking, whatever buzzword you want to use, but it's only when this film opens that Linklater really stamps his foot down and announces "I know what I'm doing here, I know where this is headed, and nothing is going to be left to interpretation."

...At least as far as I'm concerned.

Ethan Hawke is starting to show some fraying around the edges, and Julie Delpy has turned into a rather healthy looking thirty-something, which makes this the perfect time to revisit the stalled romance from 1992. It would have been easy to crank out a sequel a few years after the first film and give the people what they eagerly wanted - closure - but by sitting back and waiting until his generation had come of age, Linklater's continuation of the tale takes on a life all of its own, and the characters develop well beyond what was possible initially.

Linklater's use of music doesn't just help the story along, it makes the story complete, and the absence of music when it doesn't belong (which is most of the time - score directors take note) adds to the realism of the piece.

Delpy is, as ever, extraordinary. Credit her for bringing this character back in a way that few could, developing layer upon layer of added depth, as well as a super-sized helping of nervous panic that maybe she made the wrong move way back when. Hawke, on the other hand, brings a wordly maturity to his character, turning him from a bright-eyed bushy-tailed kid with the world in front of him into a slightly damaged, slighty cynical success story who pines for something more.

The format is the same - lots of cityscapes of downtown Paris, and loads of long single shot conversation scenes that are far smoother todfay than they were eleven years ago.

But the star of this outing is never in doubt. It's Linklater, a director who has put out more quality work in the last twelve months than any other in the business. He's shown he can do the eclectic stuff, he's shown he can do commercial kids' stuff, and he's shown he can do the romantic stuff too. But with Before Sunset he proves he can package it all in one beautiful film, the likes of which most in the audience will have never seen before and are likely to never see again. This is no cheap spin-off, it's perfect conclusion for a near-to-perfect original. Romance hacks like Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers should take note that you don't need to put the last nail in the coffin to be able to say The End.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8925&reviewer=1
originally posted: 03/19/04 23:02:37
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/27/12 Quigley One of the best sequels ever made. There's nothing like the lovely art of conversation. 5 stars
6/10/11 Jack Lantern Brilliant and captivating. Possibly the best "romance" movie ever. 5 stars
9/30/08 Annie G The ultimate ‘they came to talk’ film, but actually quite enjoyable. 4 stars
5/12/08 Venere Thought provoking yet Romantic. They both become a lil too "jaded" at the end though. 5 stars
6/19/07 Dunedain The most amazing film in years 5 stars
6/02/07 Sam one of the films I could never forget 5 stars
5/21/07 Qaisar Janjua It makes you think and it is a great thing for a film. 5 stars
4/18/07 fools♫gold People don't change. 5 stars
3/17/07 Double M Fantastic sequel. realistic characters. Not for CGI-obsessed kids. 5 stars
11/25/06 Indrid Cold Amazingly, it's a completely satisfying continuation of the original. Kudos to Linklater. 5 stars
8/22/05 john williams One of the most interesting movies i've ever seen. conversations were done so real. 5 stars
8/12/05 Lily The rare sequel that is better than the first. Lovely ending. 4 stars
5/15/05 JFK good movie, script and acting 4 stars
2/05/05 joanna saw it a month ago & still cant stop thinking about it 5 stars
1/22/05 Darryl Almost as good as "Sunrise," my only complaint being that it ended too soon! 5 stars
12/26/04 Steve I can't do this movie justice in one line...heck, in ten pages. 5 stars
12/12/04 ken purchase achingly beautiful 5 stars
12/06/04 Lily Talking never got better in a movie! 5 stars
12/05/04 Natasha Theobald I love the idea, I love the execution -- intimate and evocative 5 stars
12/05/04 Sid Savillo/Novelist/Scriptwriter That One Night Stand They Had was More Precious than Anything! 5 stars
12/04/04 nichole the movie is a total crap, it's a waste of money 1 stars
11/22/04 Ed Wood, Jr. So pretentious, cloying and self-satisfied I longed for the damn thing to be over. 2 stars
11/15/04 Dave Has a natural flow. If you've loved deeply once and disconnected it will have a certain ap 5 stars
11/13/04 tom This is romance, "new" love between the ears and over the years. Enchanting! 5 stars
11/01/04 alice a beautiful film, intelligent , for intelligent people, marvellues acting!!! 5 stars
10/04/04 julie brilliant 5 stars
9/30/04 Wendy I groaned out loud several times. 1 stars
9/09/04 Noah I loved it as much as "Before Sunrise" 5 stars
8/30/04 Steve Casper Great romance! 5 stars
8/25/04 martin unpleasant characters - cliched 1 stars
8/22/04 tina LOVED it. Can not put into words how much their story affected me 5 stars
8/05/04 Henry Soto Nice. 4 stars
8/01/04 FAnderson The couple's "true love" was not believable. 1 stars
7/28/04 Chopper3 Loved it 5 stars
7/23/04 Marce OMG! This is simply -the- benchmark on, smart, funny, touching and beautiful movie romance! 5 stars
7/20/04 Valerie Spentzos A pleasant change from Hollywood garbage, with sensitive acting and intelligent dialogue. 4 stars
7/19/04 Elizabeth Beautifully done! Brought a smile to my face and broke my heart at the same time. 5 stars
7/18/04 RMS This film was BOOOOOOOOOOORING! 1 stars
7/18/04 Cassandra Farrar good entertainment 4 stars
7/16/04 Christine was not disappointed 4 stars
7/09/04 Todd Fike Exceeds expectations 5 stars
7/08/04 JulieD It´s a really dumb movie. I loved the 1st one, though 1 stars
7/01/04 Darren Superb. The perfect follow up to a cinematic gem. 5 stars
6/30/04 Lori Not a chick flick! We BOTH loved it. He even said, "Let's rent the original." WOW 5 stars
6/29/04 Jan R Useless waste of my time, slow, dull, lifeless, amature film 1 stars
6/28/04 Kai Kirner Brilliant, intelligent, touching and wise... 5 stars
6/06/04 Trent Mitchell Great movie. I had a smile on my face the whole time. 5 stars
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  02-Jul-2004 (R)
  DVD: 09-Nov-2004


  19-Aug-2004 (M)

Directed by
  Richard Linklater

Written by
  Richard Linklater
  Ethan Hawke
  Julie Delpy

  Ethan Hawke
  Julie Delpy

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