The era of massive, face-melting box office blockbusters is, without a doubt, in full swing right now. But whatever happened to the days of the more quaint, personal, and frankly shorter films? Well, have I got a movie treat for you. It’s a cinematic sundae with two beautiful people walking around a gorgeous country talking about life, love, and the things that make us tick. It goes by the name of Before Sunset and it will change your life.
Now, I’m a sad dude. I can admit it. I’m a sucker for movies about heartbreak—I’m talking big, over-sized heartbreak. Think About Time or La La Land-style soul decimation. The act of uncontrollably obliterating one’s heart through precious words, nuanced cinematic moments, and in the case of Before Sunset, the faintest hand movements.
Before Sunset and “what could have been’s”
What is so wonderful (yes, wonderful!) about this style of movie, are the “what could have been’s” that are so elegantly perused through. And as top-shelf dramas or A-1 thrillers show you, there is nothing more effective at storytelling than the “what could have been’s” lying deep within your own mind and soul.
Before Sunset is a sequel, I understand that, so no need to come after me saying that Before Sunrise is the better film; It quite literally paved the way for the modern-era walk-and-talk film—I do understand its importance in this conversation.
What slightly elevates Before Sunset in my book is the growth we see in our characters of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke). They’ve already fallen in love, and they’ve previously agreed to reconvene and pursue what destiny has granted them, only for it to all crumble before them. With that initial relationship having already been built, the movie is able to meander through their conversations with a certain level of maturity the initial entry just can’t.
And do you want to hear a really hot take? Before Midnight, the third and final film in the Before trilogy, all of which are directed by Richard Linklater, is, in fact, the best entry. It is the most heartbreaking, the most tragic, and the most realistic in its nature. Go ahead and watch! I’m nearly positive you’ll agree.
Even if we can’t agree on that, one thing that we can all agree on, is that Ethan Hawke is just damn dreamy; and when he talks about the deep intricacies of love, we all want to listen. In a similar vein as his character in (the also incredible film) Reality Bites, his words on affection drip like honey from his mouth. Sweet, sensational, and continually catching a most seductive glint of light to keep you intrigued.
Julie Delpy is the perfect, and I do mean perfect, match for him in this movie. Funny, light on her feet, and challenging to press the conversation forward when he plays a bit more coy. Ugh. Even typing this out, I want to abandon the writing and just go watch them fall for each other!
If this isn’t enough to convince you of the magic that is Before Sunset, and really the magic of the entire trilogy, then here is one more attempt. The movie is 80 minutes long. That’s right. 80. Minutes. We’re all making time to go see John Wick Chapter 4, a movie that is 169 minutes (!!!), so why can’t you sit down for a brief 80 minutes, refresh your cinematic pallet, and fall in love with two characters that are falling in love with each other?
You can. And you need to. Simple as that. And once you’ve watched it and have joined the club, you’ll understand the absolute power that the picture below holds over you.