Before Sunset is the second film in Richard Linklater's acclaimed 'Before' trilogy. Where Before Sunrise shows the growing relationship of Jesse and Celine with their one night in Venice, Before Sunset takes things in a bit of a different direction.
The movie takes place 9 years after that one night in Venice where Jesse and Celine spent the night together. Jesse is in Paris, to do a Q & A and a book signing for his new novel. To his surprise, he spots Celine, who just happened to know Jesse would be at her favourite bookstore. The two get talking about what's been going on with one another over the time they haven't seen each other. The two are pleasantly surprised to see each other again, especially since that second meeting in Vienna never materialized. Even though they both have much different, developed lives in comparison to when they met, Jesse and Celine never lost memory of Venice, making them reminisce and revisit some tricky memories.
Before Sunset is a good sequel. Part of this, is because it does something somewhat new instead of repeating the formula that made 'Sunrise' a modern classic. If that happened, the movie would not be as great. Just like other series that release a new movie over and over with the same idea, it would take a great movie and make it a dull and repetitive. Before Sunset doesn't so much cover the romance side of things, but is more of a story of personal experiences, and where they wanted to be at this point in their life. It's a recollection of what happened in 'Sunrise' and why their relationship was or wasn't to be. Before Sunset actually does a great job at accurately depicting what it's like to reconnect with somebody you haven't seen in a long time. It's awkward and weird feeling, while evoking memories of the past that can be good and bad. Before Sunrise was a great depiction of romantic adventure, while Sunset is the great depiction for the social situation of catching up.
The interesting thing about the movie, is that it wasn't predictable when it came to what Before Sunset would cover. Going in, I figured it would show what happened with their planned second meeting in Vienna. I thought it would just be a continuation directly after Before Sunrise, but I was wrong. It takes places years after everything, which I think was an interesting choice by Linklater. While it's an interesting concept, I still would have liked to see a movie about the second meeting of Jesse and Celine returning to Vienna, if it did in fact happen. Although at this point Before Midnight is here, Before Sunset ends on a blank, open ended note that makes you wonder what happens after, just like it's predecessor did. In the beginning of the movie where Jesse talks about the book he wrote about dealing with his romantic one night affair with a girl in Venice, critics ask about the ambiguous ending. There is no real conclusion, but the story was suppose to test reader's personalities. You're either an optimist, or a cynic. Just like the first film, Before Sunset leaves us with questions, that can always be interpreted differently.
Hawke and Delpy may be older, but they pick up nine years after the first movie without skipping a beat. It's like they snapped their fingers and entered into their characters from years before with ease. It's been awhile, but the characters of Jesse and Celine are exactly the same. Richard Linklater also brings his writing game once again, with a great screenplay abundant with fresh, philosophical dialogue. There are tons of things that make Before Sunset an impressive sequel, but don't propel it above it's predecessor. It's short, and could have been added on to. I wish some more of the two characters could have been explored here, but I feel like it would be stupid to question Linklater's decision in story telling here. He obviously wanted this to feel like a brief little revisit, even if I didn't always agree with how brief it felt. It lacks the depth of Before Sunrise, but is still intriguing, and a solid second part. It's not as much a traditional sequel, as it is the second chapter to this story. This is what makes the different structure work.
Before Sunset doesn't follow the exact same format as it's predecessor, but presents another common angle of everyday relationships to us, and depicting it well.