How you improve on a film that simply had no story is perplexing to the mind. Somehow the talented trio of director Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were able to pull a sequel out of the bag that completely blows Before Sunrise out of the water. Before Sunset is the perfect sequel.
If anything, it adds depth to the first movie. Their meandering and pointlessly charming conversations given a timeless feel as we compare how the two interact with one another nine years after that first chance meeting. Hawke and Delpy have an unimaginably strong presence together on screen, their work here producing some of their best interactions in the trilogy. It’s Delpy’s time to shine in this one, with Hawke taking somewhat of a backseat to the frivolously apologetic Celine.
Celine plays the apologist, Jesse (Hawke) plays the content family man, who as you can probably guess isn’t all that content in his new life without Celine. Their sudden meeting isn’t expressed as a cataclysmic event, providing further proof that these characters are down to Earth individuals. There’s no musical cue to infer how the audience should feel, nor are there any nods to how these two individuals feel. All we know is that they feel something for one another, and what that is can be described as illusive at best.
Films that connect with me personally are few and far between. You’ll get the odd roar of laughter with some movies, the occasional tear-jerker here or there. But to truly connect with someone on a level beyond that of a surface value is truly special, and Before Sunset tapped into something I just didn’t know was in me.
Before Sunset is aided tremendously by a grand feeling of real-time. Long, unbroken shots of Celine and Jesse walking the streets of Paris or sharing a coffee and cigarette together. Talking as they did in Before Sunrise, but with a sense of urgency and even fear shared between them. Before Sunset adds to the relationships and dynamics of the first in the trilogy in some marvellous ways beyond that of any other romantic oriented movie. A truly perfect spectacle built on love, character and connection.