Before Sunset (2004) was a movie recommended to me by Netflix. It is a sequel to Before Sunrise (1995), and even though I had never heard of either movie, I decided to view them because they star Ethan Hawke, one of my favorite actors, and were favorably reviewed. I was planning to watch Before Sunrise first, but Netflix mailed me Before Sunrise first, so what was I to do?
What a movie! Before Sunrise involves American Ethan Hawke having a fantastic one-night stand with French Julie Delphy in Vienna and then agreeing to meet again in six months (like An Affair to Remember) as the movie ends. Before Sunset begins nine years later with Hawke, now a successful author, having a book-signing event in Paris and Delphy showing up at the event. For the next 90 minutes, they played catch-up by having a non-stop 90 minute conversation, and that conversation between two people was the entire movie.
Delphy’s first question was whether Hawke had shown up in Vienna. She hadn’t because her grandmother died the day before. Hawke initially said he hadn’t, and Delphy was saddened. But then Hawke eventually admitted that he had, and Delphy was even more saddened. Incredible! As someone who loves philosophical, romantic conversation, I was in heaven the entire time.
As their conversation got deeper over time, both Hawke and Delphy revealed that the connection that they made that one night in Vienna put a shadow on all their future relationships (Hawke was married to a teacher and had a son; Delphy was an environmental activist in a committed relationship with a musician). Hawke mentioned that he was actually thinking on his wedding day that Delphy would show up and stop the ceremony, and Delphy described some similar incidents in her life. As the movie draws to a conclusion, you wonder how the characters, with nine additional years of wisdom, will act differently that their younger selves.
Before Sunset received a Rotten Tomato rating of 95% from the critics and 89% from the audience, which is almost as good as Before Sunrise’s 100% from the critics and 92% from the audience. I can’t wait to see Before Sunrise. I give Before Sunset four stars out of four.