Before Sunset (2004)

2007 #96
Richard Linklater | 77 mins | DVD | 15 / R

Before SunriseNine years on, Jesse and Celine meet again in Paris…

It’s as simple a premise as Sunrise, and in many ways is very similar: it’s essentially two people talking, laughing and philosophising. It’s an odd sort of sequel — it doesn’t just take the same characters into a new story, or directly continue the original. These are the same people, but they’re older and changed. It’s very reflective; it’s almost about the first film, from a different perspective. You also don’t miss a thing — its in real time from beginning to end, showing us every second the characters spend together.

Personally I didn’t think it was as good as Sunrise — it’s not as funny and it sadly closes off some of the original’s beautiful ambiguities. Part of the problem may be that I’m close to the character’s ages in the first film but a good decade out here (though, I hasten to add, that’s not solely it). In the end, it works quite nicely as a companion piece, but (perhaps) not as a film in its own right.

4 out of 5

Recently, Sunset beat Sunrise by a noteworthy number of places in Empire’s 500 Greatest Movies poll, which was an interesting result. I stand by my assertion that the first one’s better, and can only theorize that the second installment gains something if you had to wait a decade for it and, perhaps, were closer in age to the characters — the latter I believe is a fairly important aspect in what you get from films of this nature.

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