Before Sunset – dir.Richard Linklater, 2004

I like this film so immensely because of how it ends. It’s a Kaiser Soze-type humdinger of a thing.  Yet when you see it, so gentle and subtle is it, that it could easily pass you by, which is a testament to both the script and the acting.  The film dissolves, like sherbet on the tongue.  It so perfectly ends, that I wonder how a film and its prequel (Before Sunrise) could precede it.  Thankfully the film itself is filled with similarly glorious moments. In the back of a taxi, Celine (Julie Delpy) raises her hand to affectionately touch Jesse (Hawke), who mid rant and sitting slightly forward, is none the wiser, Celine thinks twice though, and swiftly retracts the gesture, putting her arm back down again.  It seems such a strange action to witness and yet is a perfectly beautiful depiction of amorous trepidation and neurosis, and from then on we read Celine entirely more clearly.  We feel sorry for Jesse not knowing that for a moment there she wanted to be tender. The film itself is a testimony to what is not done, and what hasn’t happened.  The two never successfully reunited ten years before, and though there are frissons between the two in Paris, they are not acted on, as Jesse is married, it would have been too crass and torrid to dirty this fine romance with betrayal.  The film is about Jesse’s moment with Celine, it is hurried, he has a plane to catch; a metaphor perhaps for the distance in time and space between them and a hark back to their first meeting on a train. Their relationship is a pacing fleeting one, never unhurried, never leisurely.  The element of time adds restlessness and desperation, they only have so long to say or not say everything they have wanted to for years. Both, at points, in between long soliloquies about their lives spent, find it difficult not to orally buckle under the pressure. The film is a private moment played out in a public space, the streets of Paris, until it finally becomes a private one, Celine’s flat, where she, in song, admits that it was always Jesse. The Parisian sun seems to make Celine glow like some golden statue, she hasn’t changed Jesse says, maybe a little thinner, but you know she turned out exactly how he had hoped her to.  Jesse had better stop musing over her or he’s going to miss that Plane.  The most agonizing part of their story is when this pair, with no means of contact, recounts how close they were to meeting again all along.  Both lived in New York City for a while at the same time. Jesse on the way to his wedding, to what would be a loveless marriage, thought he saw her once.  Did he or didn’t he? Was it a tormenting apparition to cold feet or a tantalising coincidence?  She used to live near there she tells him. What is excruciating becomes the most romantic thing of all, but only because they found each other again.  If they hadn’t it would have been another saddest story in the world.

★★★★★

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2 responses to “Before Sunset – dir.Richard Linklater, 2004

  1. nice write-up… i did go on to explain the entire movie setup and the screenplay in my piece; while u have stuck to the relationship bit. the best part of the movie is that, there is no bitterness between the two, they have accepted life the way its turned out.
    i m reading some of ur other posts as well

  2. Thanks for commenting. I agree, there is definitely no bitterness between the two, quite the opposite, its as though they’re are too grateful to be anything like that.

    r

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