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Before Sunset (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: On the set of Before Sunset. Trailer.

FANS of Richard Linklater’s classic 1995 film, Before Sunrise, are probably divided into two categories - the romantics, who believed that the two strangers who met on a train and spent the ensuing 14 hours together, in Vienna, did, as they promised at the end of the film, meet up with each other six months later, and the cynics, who believed that they didn’t.

It’s taken nine years to find the answer, but the wait is most definitely worth it, as Before Sunset provides a satisfying resolution to one of modern cinema’s great romantic talking points, while furthering the story of the two people involved.

Before Sunrise told the story of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), who met on a Eurail train, and connected immediately, before separating on a train platform and promising to meet again in six months time.

The sequel picks up nine years later, with Jesse now a successful author, who has been travelling Europe to promote his latest work - a story based on his experiences of the day spent in Vienna.

At the tail end of a reading in a Paris book shop, Jesse finds Celine watching from the back of the room, and the two seize the opportunity of spending more time together, to explain why the six-month reunion never took place, and to discover what has become of their lives.

However, as Jesse is flying out of the French capital later that same evening, their time is limited, and as the two explore the inner workings of their hearts and minds, and rediscover their rare yet powerful love for each other, they must also decide whether they really do belong together.

The ensuing tale unfolds in real-time, as the two friends walk around Paris, pondering what has become of their lives in the intervening years.

As with the original, Before Sunset works on so many levels, furthering the story in a believable fashion, while also raising many questions about love and life that remain pertinent to almost every viewer.

Linklater refers to both pictures as ‘anti-Hollywood’ and ‘romance for realists’, given the way events unfold in such a credible manner.

And Hawke and Delpy work so well together that you could easily be watching a fly-on-the-wall account of their lives. Their sense of awkwardness mixed with excitement is expertly realised, while their chemistry remains as sparkling as it was first time around.

When Jesse talks of the regret at the way in which his life has unfolded, it is easy to empathise with much of what he says, and there will be many who can relate to both characters’ observations on the nature of fate and missed opportunities.

So, while the first film effectively captured the excitement and naiveté of young love, the sequel taps into darker territory, at a time when past mistakes make for cynical heads.

And yet it also re-ignites a lost sense of youthfulness in both characters, borne out by the humour which remains apparent throughout.

Both Hawke and Delpy provide mesmerising performances, both humorous and touching, that makes time spent in their company irresistible. And both the cynics and the romantics will be rooting for a satisfying resolution, which Linklater brilliantly provides.

As a result, his film is funny, romantic and achingly poignant in a way that the glossier excesses of Hollywood can only dream of realising.

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