The "Before..." Trilogy (1995) (2004) (2013)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed by: Richard Linklater
In Theatres: Jan 27th 1995 / Jul 2nd 2004 / Jun 21st 2013
Run Time: 101 minutes / 81 minutes / 108 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
“Before Sunrise” (1995)
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play twentysomethings, Jesse and Celine, who meet on a train in Europe, sense a connection and explore after-hours Vienna together.
“Before Sunset” (2004)
Picking up 9 years after the events of Before Sunrise, Jesse and Celine unexpectedly meet in Paris and have only one fading afternoon to decide if they should share their tomorrows.
“Before Midnight” (2013)
On the last night of their idyllic Greek vacation, Jesse and Celine reminisce about their lives together and what different choices might have brought.
This is a remarkable trilogy. What makes it so is that all the films are largely set in real-time, and the stories unfold completely through dialogue as Jesse and Celine converse. It’s incredibly unique and pulled off with huge success. What’s more, each film stands on its own and can be watched in any order and still garner the same appreciation and love as watching them in order. I actually watched Before Sunset prior to Before Sunrise and it served just as well.
Before Sunrise is incredibly sweet. Both Celine and Jesse are young, just out of college and in their youth their hopes and dreams for the future are full of optimism. We share their night together wandering the streets of Vienna and fall in love with their personalities, just as they gradually fall in love with each other. Their conversations are very poignant and real. In fact both performances from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy give two very real, relatable and down to earth characters. There are many, many sweet moments throughout this film, from their adorably awkward silence listening to a record in a music shop, to their first kiss, to the final bittersweet departure.
In my opinion Before Sunset is the biggest triumph of the trilogy. Certainly, the strongest film, script-wise, acting-wise and development-wise. The manner in which the conversation is kept going right the way through, completely in real time (more so than its predecessor) is phenomenal to me. The characters are 9 years older now, they’ve matured hugely from the first film. Jesse is now married but unhappily so, with a book now released. Celine is (?) now and has become hugely cynical of love and romance. Again, their dialogue is extremely poignant, sometimes even beautifully said. Both actors make it all look so effortless, they truly are amazing here. There are some emotional scenes that happen in such a wonderfully gradual way. The development is fantastically executed. However, more so than anything else, it’s the ending of this film that will leave your jaw dropped. I’ve never seen anything like it. Despite being open-ended, by one simple sentence, we know deep down what the outcome was, so really it wasn’t that open ended after all. It kind of tricks your brain! Delightfully unique.
Before Midnight, for me, was by far the weakest edition to the trilogy. I actually didn’t like it. Jesse and Celine are now married with children and their conversations this time round discuss the rewards and challenges that come with married life. They are older now and once again their views and priorities have matured from their previous outing in Paris. But instead they seem to spend the entirety of this film arguing. I just…I want to enjoy a film when I sit down to it, especially when I love these characters as much as I do. I don’t want to listen to them fighting for an hour and a half before they work it out. I’m not going to sugar coat it, I didn’t enjoy this film which was disappointing. To be honest I’d say one could live without seeing it, it won’t add or take anything from the trilogy by not doing so. It’s sort of nice having the end of Before Sunset being the end because audiences can imagine the life that followed for Celine and Jesse and make it up for themselves. And maybe there are people who could appreciate and relate to this film more than I did or could. Perhaps it is aimed at a slightly different audience to its predecessors. This is just my opinion.
After all, the first two I honestly can’t recommend enough! They are truly unique and wonderfully made. Before Sunset is a must-see for sure.