Before Sunset review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Wow, what a film! Before Sunset is infinitely better than the previous instalment in Linklater’s ‘Before’ dual features (let’s pretend the third film doesn’t exist), mostly because ‘Before Sunrise’ features two very immature characters, with limited knowledge about their place in the world (and some general world matters as well). Before Sunset follows Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy respectively) nine years after they first met, now Jesse being an acclaimed author and Celine an environmental activist, as they stroll through the streets of Paris and talk about, well, the most mundane things one can think of. And this is exactly where Before Sunset excels.
In many ways, Before Sunset doesn’t feel like a film, but rather like a genuine conversation between two past lovers now turned friends, with the undeniable chemistry between Ethan and Delpy keeping the momentum in constant forward traction. What’s interesting is that both Mr. Hawke and Ms. Delpy are credited as screenwriters (along with Richard Linklater and a couple of others), which is perhaps one of the main reasons why their dialogue flows so naturally and organically. In it, they can be spotted talking about their personal lives, family, children, history, potential, work, where they see themselves in the future, and more. It also looks and feels like they have immensely grown from nine years back, both character-wise and in terms of their professional lives. But it also seems as if the core of what made them fall into each other has remained all throughout all those years while they were drifting apart, living their own lives while wondering about what the other party had been brewing. Which brings me to my next point: nostalgia.
Richard Linklater is a master of nostalgia, i.e. to produce very simplistic features that mirror real life but not quite, and with that blurring the lines between art and reality, giving fiction a new thread to bear. Now, watching Before Sunset again after all those years (just like the characters in the film, and just like the actors who play them), the film mirrors real life in many ways, including growing up and maturing (perhaps better shown in ‘Boyhood’, which is the epitome of nostalgia and, at its most extreme – depression), shifting one’s own thinking, and realizing stuff you didn’t know before even existed. But, despite all of that, Before Sunset is nostalgic because it makes us experience our own mortality in real time; as we see the characters aging, we are constantly reminded of the futility of it all and how unpredictable life is at every corner of the way.
Dear Richard, you’ve made a masterpiece.