Before Sunset (2004)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Before Sunset</strong> (2004)

(On DVD, September 2016) I wasn’t quite expecting to like Before Sunset. On paper, it sounds like a snooze: two ex-lovers meeting again a few years later, walking around Paris and talking about their lives. Sounds dull, right? Add to that the added complication that it’s a sequel to a film (Before Sunrise) that I haven’t yet seen and I was firmly expecting to fidget through the entire movie. Much to my surprise, though, Before Sunset quickly becomes almost hypnotically compelling. As two characters talk about the profound and the mundane, often in uninterrupted long shots showcasing Paris, we’re drawn to the movie almost as eavesdroppers, wishing them the best even though “the best” may end up breaking existing relationships with others. Writer/director Richard Linklater has become the master of unusual small-scale dramas, and Before Sunset looks like a peak in his filmography, creating sharp interest out of elements that would be dull in other hands. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are fantastic in their roles and it makes perfect sense to learn that they’ve had some input in their dialogue. Utterly charming, uncommonly mature and compelling almost from beginning to end, Before Sunset is a beautiful anomaly, and the one main lesson I take away from it is that I must now see both Before Sunrise and Before Midnight.

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