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Worth A Look: 14.44%
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Pretty Crappy: 1.11%
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7 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Before Sunset
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by Scott Weinberg

"The splendid sequel to an overlooked gem."
5 stars

As time for South By Southwest '04 drew nearer, I scrawled out a list of 'must see' movies, totally unaware that a few fantastic little surprises were in store. Two filmmakers beloved in Texas decided to spin their newest movies in a pair of "unannounced" screenings; one was Guillermo del Toro presenting his deliciously enjoyable 'Hellboy' and the second was Richard Linklater with his fantastic follow-up to 'Before Sunrise'.

"Did Before Sunrise actually need a sequel?" is a question that I overheard from a handful of dismissive grumps, to which I silently responded "Hell, how many movies actually need sequels? Like...none!" But while most sequels are borne from the simple concept of Part 1 was profitable and therefore so will a Part 2, Richard Linklater's Before Sunset feels a whole lot like a bittersweet reunion with two old friends.

For those who dismissed the first flick, or simply don't remember it all that well, it's about an American boy and a French girl who spend one sweet night in Vienna before going their separate ways. The flick didn't exactly 'leave things open' for a sequel, but there was certainly enough of a question mark to perhaps warrant a second volume.

And despite the fact that Before Sunrise was in no way a smash hit (grossing under $1.5 million in North America), Linklater and his friends opted to devise a follow-up...probably because they had such a good time on the first one, and maybe because they were proud of the great little movie they'd conceived. In the years since Before Sunrise's theatrical release, the film has enjoyed a quiet-yet-loyal following as a mini-cult flick. I've met more than one movie freak who considers it a beautifully romantic movie and one that was unfairly dismissed because it didn't have Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, stupid pet tricks, or a moronic Happy Ending.

Before Sunset is, much like its predecessor, a simple testament to the fine art of screenwriting. It takes a lot of (seemingly effortless) work to produce an 80-minute chatfest between two characters and keep it compelling, but Linklater (accepting huge screenplay contributions from his two stars) pulls it off with wit, charm, humor and honesty. This is not the sort of angst-laden, navel-gazing philosophizing that you might expect from a 2-person character study; the conversations between Hawke and Delpy ring true with an alarming and supremely satisfying consistency. In another film, we might react with "Ugh...these two chatterboxes! Who cares?" but Before Sunset is filled with conversations, character moments and familiar emotions that feel as if they've been plucked from real life. Screenplay-wise, it's a thin line between False and Banal but Before Sunset toes that line with a remarkable consistency.

Hawke and Delpy slip back into their roles as if donning comfy old bathrobes, and fans of the first film will feel an immediate spark of friendship for the pair. The end of the first film sees them making a promise to meet six months later; we quickly learn that this was not to happen. Jesse is in Paris to promote his new romance novel; Celine makes an unexpected appearance at the book store, and the tentatively lovestruck duo set off on a second session of aimless wandering and wistful chattering. Plot-wise, that's about it, but there are a few surprises to be found, and the final scene is absolutely lovely. And to overlook the beautiful Parisian settings or Lee Daniel's flawless cinematography would be to ignore the icing on an especially tasty cake.

Before Sunset is entertaining in a voyeuristic way, as if we're listening in while two ex-lovers discuss all sorts of personal things, and it's also a poignant romance because these characters walk, talk and feel like real people. They're not exciting or glamorous or particularly noteworthy in any way...which is what makes their exchanges so sincerely enticing. Sure, there's nothing wrong with having to sit through the latest Nancy Meyers estrogen-fest, but something like Before Sunset has more honesty and depth of character and reality-based romanticism than any dozen rom-coms chosen at random.

This is a quiet, thoughtful and introspective little movie, and one that's not likely to break any of the box office records. But if Richard Linklater wants to follow up a smash hit like 'School of Rock' with a movie this low-key and personal, then I think that's a filmmaker who deserves a sincere pat on the back for his efforts. Fans of 'Before Sunrise' will most likely adore 'Sunset'; those who didn't...well, they probably wouldn't bother with the sequel anyway.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8925&reviewer=128
originally posted: 03/19/04 18:27:34
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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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