Thursday, 8 May 2014

Before Sunset: Fine Romance

Well, after being won over by Before Sunrise, I decided to check out the rest of Richard Linklater's "Before" Trilogy. The first one was so simple and yet so emotional, and now I finally had a chance to see the second installment, also quite enjoyable. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy both reprise their roles from the first film as Jesse and Celine, the two lovers who once spent a memorable night together in Vienna, Austria before being separated shortly after sunrise.

The story jumps ahead ten years, in keeping with the aging of the actors since then. Jesse is now a successful writer with a wife and son and Celine is an aspiring musician who can play the guitar (but refuses to sing if she doesn't have a guitar with her). Jesse just happens to be in Paris on a book tour when Celine shows up at one of his signings. Even though Jesse has a plane to catch, the two of them decide to get back together and wander around Paris, rekindling their old love for each other and facing the uncertainty of their future.

The narrative itself slows down a bit compared to the first film, but in some ways that works, as it reflects the aging of the characters. Though we don't travel through as many different locations within Paris as Before Sunrise did in Vienna, the scenery we do get to experience is just as impressive.

The chemistry between the two leads is excellent, just as in the first film. Both are complex characters and play off of each other well enough to keep the story going, which is good because there aren't really any other characters of significance who appear on screen. At the same time, however, there is something new brought in rather than just re-hashing the original. The characters have aged ten years, and it shows in their performance. We see how both were affected by their previous meeting and we start to delve a lot more into their personal lives.

Before Sunset is definitely a worthy follow-up to Before Sunrise. It manages to keep true to the spirit of its predecessor while also trying to find something new to bring into the interactions between its leads. If I were to make any serious complaint, I thought the ending may have been a bit of an odd choice, but I think that's more because the movie wasn't made with the expectation that people seeing it at the time would know that another sequel exists.

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