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Before Sunset

This is Linklater’s sequel to his 1995 ‘Before Sunrise’, perhaps my favorite romantic film, in which a young American man and a young French woman meet on a train in Europe, spend a day and night together, and without exchanging any contact information, vow to meet again in six months.  ‘Before Sunset’ takes place nine years later as they meet again for the first time since their initial encounter.   It follows them for 80 minutes of “real time” as they walk around and talk, and every one of those minutes rings true.   The sigh-inducingly great Julie Delpy gives a wonderful performance and Ethan Hawke is quite good as well.  

Of many wonderful moments, one sticks in my mind.   She asks him if she’s changed, if she looks different.   He says nothing but his expression reveals what he is thinking (in fact, both actors’ faces show the nine years that have passed).   She says “I have,” and there is a great acceptance in the way she says it: an acceptance that we’re not what we once were, and that there is a sadness in that, but it’s okay because what we are now is good as well.    

At least, that’s how the scene plays when I replay it in my mind; I’ll have to see it again to confirm.   (This is the first movie this year that I’m anxious to see again in the theater).   It couldn’t be further away from the sitcom banality that passes for “romantic comedy” these days. Co-written by Hawke and Delpy along with Linklater and Kim Krizan.   

-- Jul 20, 2004  

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