Monday, June 03, 2013
Directed by Richard Linklater and screenplay by Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy from a story by Linklater and Kim Krizan, Before Sunset is the sequel to 1995’s Before Sunset in which Jesse arrives in Paris for a book tour where he is reacquainted with Celine as the two spend the entire afternoon talking about their lives and everything else nine years after they first met in Vienna. With Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprising their roles in Jesse and Celine, respectively, the film explores about what happens when fate brings them together again and what has happened nine years since their first meeting. The result is a magnificent yet engrossing film from Richard Linklater.
In Before Sunrise, the American Jesse and the French Celine meet on a train to Vienna as they spend an entire day in the city talking about the ideas of love. Nine years later in Before Sunset, Jesse is on an European book tour talking about that day as his last stop is in Paris where he meets Celine at the book store. The two talk about what happened in Vienna as well as why Celine didn’t show up six months later after their day in Vienna who does reveal why. Yet, they spend the entire afternoon in Paris just before Jesse is to return to the U.S. to be with his wife and their four-year old son. During the course of the entire film, the two resume their conversation about life and love where both reveal their own trials and tribulations in the nine years since they last saw each other.
The screenplay by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy doesn’t carry any traditional narrative structure as it’s told in real-time where the two are dealing with not just the changes in their individual lives but also things like aging, idealism, and ambitions. Notably as both Jesse and Celine have endured things that has shaped them as individuals where they both encounter disappointments and realizations about themselves. During the course of their conversation in Paris, they also become frustrated with one another over how their lives had turned out only to realize that there’s still some passion for each other. The script is very loose in the way the conversations are told and where they are set in some of the many locations in Paris.
Linklater’s direction is very loose as he doesn’t really do anything new yet he maintains something that is still engaging as it is told in real time in the course of 80 minutes. Notably as he maintains something that is improvisation to keep things real as if these two really hadn’t seen each other in nine years. The direction has Linklater using lots of steadicams to capture the two walking around Paris as it also features shots of various landmarks and such to help play out a subject the two are talking about. Even as things would intensify in the course of the film as it would lead to some very emotional moments in the film. Still, there is some humor that is happened in the film including its climax that is followed by one of the greatest endings in cinema. Overall, Linklater creates a very majestic film about love and lovers reuniting.
Cinematographer Lee Daniel does fantastic work with the film‘s very beautiful cinematography to capture the beauty of Paris in the afternoon where a lot of it is shot in its exteriors along with a few interior scenes in the film. Editor Sandra Adair does nice work with the editing as it‘s mostly straightforward while using some rhythmic cuts to capture the intensity of the conversations. Production designer Baptiste Glaymann does terrific work with the minimal set pieces such as the bookstore early in the film to Celine‘s apartment in the end. Costume designer Thierry Delettre does wonderful work with the costumes from the rugged suit that Jesse wears to the casual look of Celine.
Sound editor Tom Hammond does amazing work with the sound to capture the atmosphere of the locations including the scene at the Seine River. The film’s music consists of some original music performed by Julie Delpy in the film’s opening and closing credits including a waltz-based song called A Waltz for a Night while the soundtrack also includes a Nina Simone song played in one of the film’s big moments.
The film’s cast doesn’t feature much of an ensemble though it does feature an appearance from Delpy’s real-life parents Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet as a couple in the courtyard. The performances of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are truly the highlight of the film as they both replay the roles they had done nine years earlier by displaying the sense of weariness as well as maturity of the two characters. Hawke makes Jesse a more grounded individual who is aware that he’s in a loveless marriage while trying to do right while Delpy makes Celine more neurotic over the tribulations she’s faced. The two together maintain the kind of chemistry that they were known for in the previous film as there’s something so intoxicating to watch as these characters.
Before Sunset is an outstanding film from Richard Linklater that features remarkable performances from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The film is definitely one of the rare sequels that either equates or surpasses its predecessor while reminding audiences why these characters are so beloved. It’s also a film that doesn’t go for any tricks while maintaining something that is very simple and to the point about love. In the end, Before Sunset is a tremendous film from Richard Linklater.
Richard Linklater Films: It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books - Slacker - Dazed & Confused - Before Sunrise - subUrbia - The Newton Boys - Waking Life - Tape - School of Rock - Bad News Bears (2005 film) - A Scanner Darkly - Fast Food Nation - Me and Orson Welles - Bernie (2011 film) - Before Midnight - Boyhood - Everybody Want Some!! - The Auteurs #57: Richard Linklater Pt. 1 - Pt. 2
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