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Before Sunset

What if you had a second chance with the one that got away? 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Before Sunset

In 1995, Linklater's Before Sunrise explored a fleeting but intense encounter between two young students, Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), who knew they only had until dawn together, when one must take a train. Having exchanged nothing but the promise they would meet again in six month's time, the film ended on the Vienna train station. Nine years pass before, on a chance meeting in a Paris bookshop, they finally meet again. Jesse is now a writer, married with a son. Celine is an activist engaged in a long-term relationship of her own. After a tentative greeting the two soon regain the easiness of their first meeting, mindful, once again, of time constraints. Their initial optimism in the stories they exchange about the different directions their lives have taken falls away, exposing their disappointment and regrets.

Based on the extremely successful collaboration of Linklater with Hawke and Delpy on the script, this sequel, much like its predecessor, is very much talk-driven; long, sustained shots of little action. The relaxed, if sometimes melancholic, dialogue is complemented by the masterful camera-work of Linklater, which takes us easily through the streets of Paris in a way that never detracts from the conversation.

Personally, Hawke has never struck me as a brilliant actor, but his performance is very strong, thanks partly to the even better one provided by Delpy. The easiness and "realism" of their interaction is a testament to their close and sustained partnership, and the film has an impressive improvised feel to it, despite exhaustive scripting and rehearsals.

Linklater has said that in his Before films he was attempting to make an "Anti-Hollywood" romance, and in this respect he is successful; Before Sunset is a refreshing escape from the schmaltz ladled on us by recent America. Though not perfect, overall this is a sensitive, engaging and intelligent film.

Ben Chisnall

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Spring Term (35mm)