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Before Sunset

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Before Sunset

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Director: Richard Linklater
Rated: R
RunTime: 80 Minutes
Release Date: July 2004
Genres: Comedy, Romance


*Also starring: Vernon Dobtcheff, Diabolo, Albert Delpy, Mariane Plasteig, Marie Pillet, Rodolphe Pauly



Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

What great chemistry! Again. Richard Linklater's BEFORE SUNSET, the sequel to one of last decade's best films, BEFORE SUNRISE, again pairs Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as Jesse and Celine. Once young lovers who had a one-night fling in Vienna and completely lost touch with each other afterwards, they are now thinner, frailer and a decade older but still obviously and madly in love.

"I can't believe you're here," Jesse tells Celine when they meet in Paris for a few hours before he has to catch a plane home to the U.S. We can't believe it either since their first film was such a perfectly constructed talkfest that it is somewhat scary to see them together again. Will they blow it and be boring old fogies, or will they still find lots to say worth hearing? Not to fear, even though they are now the ripe old age of thirty-two, they can each talk a blue streak full of fascinating little thoughts on life. Typical of these tidbits are Jesse's reflection, "Life's hard. It's supposed to be. If we didn't suffer, we wouldn't learn anything," and Celine's musing, "There are so many things I want to do, and I end up doing -- not much."

As they walk and talk through the streets of Paris, we learn how happy each of them is. Jesse is a successful writer, having written a "tiny" best selling novel based on his one-night affair with Celine. He's got a beautiful and smart wife and an adorable five-year-old son. Celine, who is employed by a non-profit that fights for environmental and other liberal causes, is currently in a relationship with a war photographer, who, conveniently for the sake of her independence, is gone most of the time. By the last act, however, many of these happy facades break, and the real truths begin to emerge.

One thing is certain, they both agree, with Woody Allenesque logic, that it's not all about sex, which means, of course, that it really is. They both get real charges out the sexual banter and humor that they share with each other. Jesse laments that their day together isn't their last day on earth since they seem in agreement that, if it were, they'd both be having sex like rabbits all-day long. One of their early disagreements is whether they actually had sex in Vienna all those years ago. She is pretty sure that he didn't have a condom so she wouldn't let him. His memory is quite different.

Eventually this film, with its wonderfully unscripted feel, comes to an abrupt and completely unsatisfactory conclusion. But, to be honest, I'm not quite sure how I would have wanted the story to end. I am ready for the next episode in their lives, whatever they call it (BEFORE MOONRISE?) and whenever they want to make it. These actors own the screen when they are on it together. Watching them is sheer delight.

BEFORE SUNSET runs a little too fast at 1:20. It is rated R for "language and sexual references" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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