Before Sunset (2004) “How Have I Changed?”


DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater

Nine years have past since Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) have met and they are at two different places in life. At the end of 1995’s Before Sunrise these two people vowed to meet six months later in Paris after spending the day together. We meet these two people now and see Jesse as an author holding interviews to French journalists about whether his romantic novel is a work of fiction or non fiction. The book sounds very familiar to plot occurrences in Before Sunrise and they want to know the true story.  We meet Celine who has also come to see him and their conversation continues from nine years earlier.

before-sunset-ethan-hawkeAgain like the previous film Before Sunset provides the audience dialogue and banter to listen to between these two characters. The point of difference is that these two are in their thirties and are less naive about the world and willing to speak about more risky topics. Some may believe that you can never find a perfect partner so just settle for the closest one you can find. Jesse and Celine share a bond and connection which is deeper than friendship and able to freely discuss anything they want.

Jesse is the author, thirty something and is more of an idealist than what he was before. He is is in a stagnant marriage back home and has a son too. Celine is a staunch environmentalist campaigner who is still single and slightly resentful of the fact.

Celine: Memory is a wonderful thing if you don’t have to deal with the past.
Jesse: Life’s hard. It’s supposed to be. If we didn’t suffer, we’d never learn anything.


before-sunset1The film is still very talky and we are carried away by tracking shots of the two leads walk through Paris both remembering their previous bond and discussing their perspectives on the present. I am willing to admit that I wasn’t a big fan of Linklater but his style has grown on me every time I watch a his films. He understands restraint of what you see and what can be left out. This film explores romanticism, idealism, religion, friendship and love. You can find that in the previous film but this delivers on a higher level.

There is a scene that stands out and that is when both Jesse and Celine are being driven and talking in the backseat about their own views of what happened nine years ago and what it represents for them. A rawness is seen on both faces and a realism that these two can be anyone in your neighbourhood having the same discussion.  That vulnerability is shown in the last scene as well and both Hawke and Delpy again bring reliable performances to Linklater’s film.


Ethan Hawke as Jesse

Julie Delpy as Celine



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