Before Sunset Richard Linklater

Before Sunset Richard Linklater
In 1995, upcoming director Richard Linklater followed up his cult-hit-to-be Dazed and Confused with a sweet little Gen-X flick about two aimless 20-somethings who connect on a European train and spend a night of flirtatious conversation in Vienna. The pair, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), engages in one of those "so true" conversations that only those free of responsibility and time's wisdom can engage in - philosophical tracts about the nature of love, the ineffability of human connection, and the implausibility of fate. As Before Sunrise reached its close, the pair resolved to reconnect again in six months. Nine years later, Before Sunset finds Jesse a published author on a book tour to promote his latest novel, a tale that bears a striking resemblance to the night of Before Sunrise. At a book signing in Paris, Celine arrives to reconnect in the 80 minutes or so before Jesse catches a plane back to the States. And so for another hour-and-a-half (unfolding in real time now), Jesse and Celine wander Paris and discuss their past, the lost potential of their intervening lives and the raw deal that fate handed them since their glory days. (No comment on the same hand fate dealt these two actors.)

At its core, Before Sunrise was about hope and connection transcending mundane concerns like geography, but Before Sunset, which was co-written by Linklater and its two stars, carries a much heavier load. All the baggage of their last decade apart weighs down these two free spirits, who are now more likely to whine about failed relationships and the hardships of responsibility. Their hour of blather is blithe "woulda coulda shoulda" bullshit that bears little resemblance to the hope or potential of the first film. Even the spark between them - which is, after all, the point of returning to these characters - seems dulled by years of soul-destroying jobs and daily minutiae. Making a sequel to Before Sunrise, which wasn't a box office smash by any means upon its original release, was clearly an act of creative nostalgia. Sadly, the result fails to remind us why we might have cared in the first place. (Warner Independent)