Rich Linklater filmed Before Sunset nine years after its preceding movie, Before Sunrise. We meet back up with Jesse, Ethan Hawke, in Paris on a book tour. The subject of his book is his one night, nine years ago in Vienna. As the session ends, Celine, Julie Delpy, enters the scene. Jesse has about an hour before he must leave for the airport to return home to the US to his wife and son.
Paris is not the star of the film, but Jesse and Celine meander through the city. The movie is short in real-time and is almost a single shot do to the extremely compressed timeline for their encounter. We get a glimpse into the last nine years for both Celine and Jesse as they catch each other up. Celine has had no luck dating other than her exes all finding their wives right after leaving her. Jesse, on the other hand, is in a failing loveless marriage but the love for his son keeps him with his wife.
We come to learn that Jesse returned to Austria six months after the first film while Celine’s grandmother’s death kept her away. Their paths came close to crossing in New York City when Celine lived there, but no luck of an encounter. It shows just how stupid it was to not exchange any contact information. Trans-Atlantic communication in 2004 is much easier than in 1995.
The vulnerability they showed each other in Before Sunrise comes right back in Before Sunset. Now in their thirties, both are less optimistic about the world. They feel more grounded in this movie. They have grown as people, but there is still some familiarity with who they were in Austria.
Just like Before Sunrise you are rooting for these two to end up together. You want the stars to be aligned so that they can be happy with each other. The movie leaves off on a hopeful note that at least they will spend some extra time together. A run time of 1:12 felt a little short. In Before Sunrise, I liked the boxed-in nature of the film, but I wanted another fifteen to thirty minutes in Paris. Waiting to see these movies until now has a benefit though, I can watch Before Midnight and catch back up with the couple another nine years down the road.