Sometimes you meet the person who will define you forever. They destroy you and then rebuild you, and you are left unlike you were before. Can you ever get over that person? Can any other relationship be as important? Can you love again? It seems impossible for anyone to move you the way they did, or to touch your soul so deeply.
It has happened to me once, and I still wonder if I’m over the experience, or if it will stay with me forever. Maybe it’s just my idealised memory of what happened, what I felt. How can you tell? Even meeting them again can’t shed light on your past – it just leaves more questions. Is the search for another experience just like it leading you to miss out on other relationships just as amazing? Can the memory of what was stop you from realising what may be? Can a person be so utterly changed more than once? Should a person be defined by the people they are with at all, or must they be whole without? Before Sunset attempts to shed light on many of these issues, and should be required viewing for anyone who thinks they know what love is.
Apart from its content, Before Sunset is beautifully made. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are excellent, Linklater does an amazing job, and Paris provides a suitable backdrop. The script has the same energy as the original Before Sunrise, and the dialogue really flows – Delpy and Hawke play with words in a similar way to the stars of Kissing Jessica Stein. Although heavy in verbal communication, there is much to be learnt from the subtle looks, reactions and body language displayed by Hawke and Delpy – they own these characters, and are always entirely believable. It is rare to see an actor so immersed in their role, and to have both leads in the same movie performing at this level is a real treat.
It may be just a tad too long ago for many to remember the tone and feeling of Before Sunrise, so it is worth rewatching prior to seeing this. Although Sunset could easily stand on its own, if you have seen the first edition, revisit it and fall in love with these characters again. The way we see the story continue over the two films maximises its impact – we see the effects of ageing on Jesse and Celine physically, but also in their attitudes and experience – and this brings us even closer to the two people than before.
Richard Linklater has crafted a wonderful movie for those of us who have ever thought these thoughts of love and loss. It’s not pretending to know all the answers, but it helps you explore the questions. Delpy and Hawke could be you and me, and this is the secret to why I loved this film so much. It is the hope that one day I too might find the love of my life. And not lose her for a second time.Rating: