Before Sunset (2004)

before sunset poster 2004 movie julie delpy ethan hawke
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Improves on the original

Short and to the point

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Before Sunset

Studio:  Castle Rock Entertainment

Genre(s):  Romance

Release Date(s):  February 10, 2004 (Berlin International Film Festival)/July 2, 2004

MPAA Rating:  R


Reunited and it feels so good.

Nine years have passed since Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) spent a magical evening in Vienna.  Now, Jesse has written a book on his experience and is doing a European signing tour.  When Céline stops by the signing on his last day in Europe, Jesse and Céline find themselves continuing their talk from nine years before and rekindling an old relationship that seemingly died when their planned re-meeting in Vienna failed.

Written and directed by Richard Linklater (with writing help from the stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy), Before Sunset is a follow-up to the popular 1995 romance Before Sunrise.  The movie was critically acclaimed and nominated for an Academy Award Best Adapted Screenplay.  This nomination was a bit of a question mark since the movie was an original story, but the fact it was based on old characters lead to the Adapted Screenplay nomination (it did lose to Sideways).  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the trilogy as The Before Trilogy (Criterion #856) with Before Sunset individually numbered as Criterion #858.


I think there is enough bench for you too…

Before Sunrise was a bit of a flash in the world of romance films.  The movie featured “real” conversation and a played down romance between the main characters.  Fans fell in love with the characters and they even cameoed in a dream in Richard Linklater’s animated Waking Life in 2001.  With Before Sunset, the characters transition into something new.

I love the idea of a true follow-up movie that studies how people change over years.  Here, the characters have aged, developed, and moved on with life despite being still hung up upon the evens of 1995.  This leads to interesting discussions on how life changes people and why younger people make the decisions they make.


A boat ride on the Seine? You are a tourist!

The story also serves to clear up some questions left by the first film.  It is implied that the characters slept together but never stated.  The movie plays with the idea.  Hawke says they did Delpy says they didn’t…but then recants that statement.  Another thing the movie confirms is what happened six months later.  Hawke’s character went back to Vienna and Delpy missed the meeting with the death of her grandmother…this also leads to more “what if” discussions by the characters.

I still am not an Ethan Hawke fan but he’s less creepy in this film than the previous film.  Many critics pointed to the idea that the character mirrored Hawke’s break-up with Uma Thurman, and I do feel a bit bad for the character’s wife in the story.  Delpy is charming as Céline and unlike the previous film, the movie doesn’t rely on other characters to spark the conversations.


Ok…six months from now, I’ll see you in Paris…

The movie once again is a great way to showcase Paris.  The characters walk the streets and ride the boats of the Seine (I think it is rather funny that Delpy’s character hasn’t been on it…proving that is just a tourist thing to do).

Before Sunset in my opinion is an improvement on the Before Sunrise formula and in the improvement sets up a series that could continue for decades if the actors and creators want it to.  The idea of checking in on the evolution of a relationship is intriguing, and I look forward to seeing Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy again as the years go on.  Before Sunrise was followed by Before Midnight in 2013.

Related Links:

Before Sunrise (1995)

Waking Life (2001)

Before Midnight (2013)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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