Thanks goodness I'm watching this on DVD (though missing out on the chance of experiencing this on the big screen) and can almost watch it immediately after watching the original. Well I could have, but I'd like to let Before Sunrise sink it a bit, before finding out how my favourite lovebirds continue with their next encounter in this sequel, filmed some nine years later, which is a very, very long time to wait for a sequel to be made.
I guess the length of time in between the making of the movies helped to bring about certain gravitas to the characters played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, in that they truly age physically, no two ways about that, and along with the physical age, come the emotional baggage and history they have built over the years. You can see it in their eyes, no longer the optimistic young adults, full of enthusiasm and hope, and all those replaced by a weary sense of worldliness, with chiseled looks and skinnier frames. I think Celine was more beautiful nine years ago, and am ruing the loss of baby fat, haha!
Anyway I digress. For those who are left at the cliffhanger from Before Sunrise, you'll be pleased that what happened after, and what specifically happened that night, will be revealed in this movie, though the story teases you in not having it revealed in its entirety, toying with you with coy and playfulness, just as how the characters interact then and now. In Before Sunset, we are nine years from the last meeting of Jesse Wallace (Ethan Hawke, with a last name to his character) and Celine (Julie Delpy), and he's now a published writer making his whirlwind book promotion in Europe. They meet in a bookstore in Paris, which takes over Vienna, and now have to spend, in almost real time, a very limited late afternoon evening together reminiscing and catching up, before Jesse's scheduled flight home to the USofA.
The narrative style has also matured together with the ease with which the actors play their respective characters. You''ll notice the increase in the number of long, uninterrupted takes and dialogues, and sometimes wonder, it'll be a pain to flub your lines. Perhaps it's also because having Hawke and Delpy co-write the screenplay, they were able to inject material drawn from personal experiences to breathe life into their roles. Therefore their lines come across so naturally, you can't help but to start casting this voyeuristic look upon Jesse and Celine as you eagerly await their sharing of their lives from that moment in time, until now - their careers, their families, and the perennial what ifs, and there are many.
I don't have a particular moment which I loved, unlike the previous movie, but there are certain dialogue discussed, especially during the limo ride, which struck a chord in me. Perhaps even made me understand my past relationships a little more, though regretting certain things I sure have. It made me wonder, if that was exactly how another felt, and if so, how stupid I was to have not understood, Then again, if I had, then things would be different now, wouldn't it?
I'd say it again, that the movie was made enjoyable by the two main leads portrayal of lovers who can be exactly you or me, and of the fantastic conversational pieces that they have, be it flirting with each other, or discussion of serious issues. Wonderful, wonderful chemistry between them, and for fans of Delpy, you'll be glad to know that she composed and contributed 3 songs to the movie, one of which is worked into the plot, and performed on screen. I like.
I liked the way it started, as if what happened in Before Sunrise was something from memory, from imagination, from the past retold in a novel. And depending on your mood, I'd like the way it ended - in a manner which could swing either way, depending on your personality, and the degree of romanticism which you have at that point. In the end, I too was made to reminisce about the one who got away, and regretting it big time. And it does make me wonder, what will happen if I chance upon her some years down the road too (I think it has now been 5?), how exactly we would react, and how we would have a conversation, if ever, during that chance meeting.
To truly appreciate this movie, watch Before Sunrise first. Better yet, watch both movies back to back, it'll clock in about 181 minutes, which should breeze by given the compelling dialogue and excellent chemistry. I know I will, sometime soon!
There's a slight improvement in the WB Code 3 DVD in that it contains a making-of feature called On The Set of Before Sunset. There are interviews with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, as well as director Richard Linklater. You can see how many crew were needed to film the seemingly simplest of scenes, and listen to how they collaborated across continents before finally getting together to shoot the movie. One gripe though, is that this segment lasts only 9 minutes and 40 secs long, and ends so abruptly, you'll not believe that it had finished.
As usual, the audio and visual transfers are great, and you have a choice of languages in English Dolby Surround 5.1, or Portugese Dolby Surround Stereo. Another extra is the theatrical trailer, and a host of subtitles available in many languages.