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Before Sunset (2004)
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Review Date: July 17, 2004
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Producers: Richard Linklater, Anne Walker-McBay
Actors:
Ethan Hawke
Julie Delpy
Albert Delpy
Plot:
Nine years after the American guy hung out with the French girl in Vienna for the night, and seemingly fell in love with one another, the twosome meet in Paris once again, this time older, wiser and quite obviously...still hung up on each other. With only an hour or so before his plane ride back to New York, the duo talk some more and seem to connect even deeper. But will they end up together? Will they separate once more? Will I ever get laid again? Many questions, few answers...
Critique:
I seem to be one of the few people who wasn't necessarily blown away by this film's prequel, BEFORE SUNRISE. I liked the movie, but didn't consider it to be the "be all, end all" of romanticism on film, as many had suggested. That said, I was a young punk at the time, hadn't really met my own personal "connection" yet and was likely just talking out of my ass. Now that I'm an apparent "adult" (other than that munchkin in my jeans!), I think I'm in a more knowledgeable place to rate this film, particularly because I've gone through my own share of "love found, love lost" episodes in the past few years. All that to say that I really liked this flick, despite it basically just following two people around the streets of Paris for a period of 80 minutes (of "real time") with no pauses and almost no interaction with anyone else. Now while that may sound boring to some (in fact, if you can't stand two people just "talking" for a whole movie, skip this...it's not for you), I had imagined the same of Linklater's similarly paced TAPE, which essentially took place in one room and three characters, but that film blew me away, so I was happy to entertain his craftsmanship again. One of the secrets to maintaining audience interest in any movie that features only two people "talking" is the two people in question, their language, their ability to engage and surely the most important aspect of all: their chemistry! In this case, both Ethan Hawke (looking haggard) and Julie Delpy (looking skinny) had all those elements and then some!

The chemistry between them was palpable to the point that I almost felt like jumping into the screen and making out with them myself! As for their conversations, despite a touch of pretentiousness (just a touch), I was extremely elated to find that the filmmaker and his co-screenwriters (and stars of the film) had foregone the philosophical masturbation that they had poured into their last endeavor together, the experiment-gone-awry and pomposity that was WAKING LIFE. In the case of this film, I guess you could say that most anyone who has had an experience with a lost love or someone with whom they "thought" they connected, but always wondered about, will connect to the themes here. I especially liked how the characters developed their dialogue as they walked through the streets together, dropping little hints about themselves, being "jokey" a lot of times to mask their vulnerabilities, but ultimately realizing that time was a factor and that truth, emotion and heart, might be the best way to reveal themselves. In this day and age, people seem to get together (or even stay together) for the most fucked up reasons (as the characters in this film remark), so it's refreshing to see a couple who drop the facades, drop the psychological needs to fulfill something they hadn't had as children because their daddy left them and drop the need to "feel secure" and simply take a chance on love, life and their obvious connection to another human being.

The film also deals with the idea of fate, a topic that has always intrigued me personally. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so even when something "supposedly" bad happens in your life, it's leading to something else. The two characters from the last film were supposed to reunite in Vienna six months after their initial meeting, but that never happened. That might've seemed tragic at the time, but some might say that it wasn't "meant to be" since both characters might not have been mature enough to develop together at that time. Maybe they needed that extra time apart to appreciate one another more. I believe in shit like that, so when someone tells me that they dreamt about their ex-girlfriend, only to wake up and receive an email from that person the next day, I say "run with it"...everything means something. I guess I got all hokey'd up on that stuff after reading "The Celestine Prophecy". If you want to read more about that sort of philosophy, pick it up...it's a little goofy, but the general idea of everything in life "meaning" something and that we should be "in tune" with "signs" and stuff, works (at least for me). Of course, much like the first movie, this one also ends on a somewhat ambiguous note, but one that I really appreciated and believed to be the most honest, under the circumstances (it was more "cute" than emotional, but clicked) A great character study that I hope to see continued in another decade or so, with real conversations, true feelings and romance throughout. Kudos to everyone involved in the production!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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