BY RAQUEL LANERI
Daily Arts Writer
Published July 18, 2004
As star-crossed soul mates Jesse (Ethan Hawke, “Training
Day”) and Celine (Julie Delpy, “Waking Life”) say
farewell at the closing of Richard Linklater’s 1995 talkfest
“Before Sunrise,” they agree not to exchange contact
information. But they promise to meet again at the very same
platform in Vienna six months later. And while this ambiguity is a
perfect end to the Gen-X romance, audiences left the film wondering
“Did they meet again?”
Linklater answers this question in the much-awaited
“Before Sunset.” It’s hard to imagine that the
sequel would live up to its predecessor, one of the most romantic
films of the ’90s, but “Sunset” outshines
Nine years have passed since their rendezvous in Vienna. Jesse
and Celine meet again in Paris, the last stop on Jesse’s book
tour for his novel about his time with Celine. She appears at his
book signing, and after an ecstatic yet awkward greeting, they
decide meet for coffee before Jesse’s departure.
He tells Celine that it seems like only yesterday they first
met, and the audience feels the same way: Their exchanges are
natural, the way they touch one another is playful. Hawke and Delpy
collaborated with Linklater on the screenplay, which accounts for
the way they inhabit their characters.
Linklater wants the viewer to feel like an eavesdropper
listening to a conversation unfolding. Luckily, this loquacious duo
never gets dull; Jesse and Celine are older and wiser — not
as cocky as they once were, but thoughtful, introspective and
The camera work is impressive — seven-minute tracking
shots are no easy task — yet remains unobtrusive, the long
takes helping dialogue flow. The scenery enhances and affects the
talk; one sees the Paris streets with quaint coffee shops and
cobblestone streets with a similar fascination which it bestows on
Hawke and Delpy.
“Before Sunset” is a beautiful, articulate
reflection on love and fate, instilling the most cynical viewer
with optimism. At one point, Celine cautions Jesse, “Baby,
you’re gonna miss that plane.” One can’t help but
hope that he does.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.