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Before Sunset (2004)

Before Sunrise 2

What if you had a second chance with the one that got away?

Directed by:

Richard Linklater

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 80 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States

Nine years ago, wandering American bloke Jesse (Ethan Hawke) met Bohemian French totty Celine (Julie Delpy) while on a train hurtling from Budapest to Vienna. Before long, idle chit-chat had turned into a one night stand, and the smitten pair agreed to meet up again in the Austrian capital six months later. But ‘Before Sunset’ isn’t about that. No, if you want to see that story being told, you’ll need to track down a copy of 1995’s ‘Before Sunrise’. This, fellow cosmopolitans, is the sequel.

Skip ahead to the present day and Jesse is a successful published writer. He’s in Paris plugging his latest book (which is basically the story of the first film), and guess who also just happens to be in town? That’s right – after nigh-on a decade of failing to bump into each other (which could be something to do with their ludicrous decision not to exchange either phone numbers or surnames), the guitar-strumming environment-loving slightly-Communist Celine is back in his life.

There are two things that there are a lot of in ‘Before Sunset’, and they are walking and talking. In fact, those two activities pretty much consume the whole of the 80 minute running-time, as Celine and the Jessmeister stroll the streets of Gay Paree, half-awkwardly looking into each others’ eyes and mulling over what might have been.

I suspect this film must have been much harder to make than it looks, particularly for the lead pair who hug the entirety of the screentime and are undoubtedly under considerable pressure to comfortably deliver dialogue which is relaxed enough to seem real but inhibited enough to fit the situation. Scenes go on for longer than the average movie-goer will be used to, which creates a “real time” effect for the whole thing but must also substantially reduce the error margin for all involved. Of course, the fact that both Hawke and Delpy were heavily involved in writing the screenplay must have helped – but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that both really succeed in delivering the goods on the performance front.

‘Beyond Sunset’ is romantic, it’s warm, and it features some wonderful scenery, but more than anything else it’s nice. It’s the sort of film that’s good to watch while it’s unravelling on-screen, and even a little refreshing for its simplistic and non-mushy handling of the subject matter, but ultimately it makes little lasting impression beyond its end credits. Much like its predecessor, it’s there to be enjoyed while it’s on, but could struggle to be remembered another nine years down the line.

It's Got: Talking. And walking. And then some more talking. And more walking.

It Needs: Celine to go for ten minutes without mentioning her “journal”.

Alternatives:

Before Sunrise, The Notebook

Summary

Enjoyable while it lasts – but chances are you’ll have forgotten it before sunset.

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