Before Sunset –Film Review

January 12, 2014 : 11:29 pm | by Zach Toll

Before Sunset poster

Before Sunset (2004)

I hate hearing the phrase “the one that got away.” I hate most clichés anyway, but this one especially irks me because Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) mark the phrase’s ultimate conception. We can all go home now, humanity; Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have perfected this one.

The story’s only flaw, if you even consider it one, is that Sunset will make less sense to and have a drastically reduced impact on any viewer that has not first seen Sunrise. Truth be told, that group of people must be on the small side. Sunset came out about a decade ago and the first film is old enough to buy tobacco legally in all fifty states (Yes, you too, New Jersey). If you’ve seen Sunrise, the odds are high that you’ve also watched Sunset. Another good reason I bet that is the incredible chemistry Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) have in both movies. Only a sociopath could lack the desire to see them succeed.

The camerawork never goes stale. Cuts regularly break the five-minute mark, but the camera follows the couple so naturally that it does not disturb the viewer. Shots are usually framed at enough distance to take in the film’s Parisian scenery, which could have been cliché in its soft lighting –Yet another love story set in Paris! –but witty repartee concerning American and French stereotypes keeps the story grounded. That Hawke and Delpy wrote their own dialogue comes as no surprise. Their delivery is so natural that it sounds like only they could have written the lines. Clearly, Hawke and Delpy have grown close with their characters, knowing how they have changed, matured, but still stayed the same fundamentally. To call Sunset a dialogue-heavy film would not go far enough.

You would be correct in thinking that all I have to write about this film is that its dialogue and acting are top-notch, but not because it leaves me wanting in any other areas. The impressive thing about Sunset is its honest, voyeuristic portrayal of two people, who have fallen in love, expressing to one another the deep pain they have felt during their nine year separation. It is a glimpse into the human soul, and for that it is worth watching.

Trailer here

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2 Responses to “Before Sunset –Film Review”

  1. Nathan Andersen Says:

    Nice review. Have you seen the newest one yet? Before Midnight? I keep meaning to see it. I really like Richard Linklater. By the way, they just announced a last minute inclusion for his newest film, called “Boyhood.”

  2. Zach Toll Says:

    I have not seen that yet. Guess it’s going on my list. Hopefully I can catch Boyhood at the festival.

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