Before Sunset

Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

Directed by Richard Linklater
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
June 16, 2004

In 1995's Before Sunrise, Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American traveling in Europe, had one night of sex and conversation in Vienna with Celine (Julie Delpy), the French beauty he met on a train. To some, the film was meandering and talky. To others (me included), the film was bliss, a rebel experiment by the two actors and director Richard Linklater (Slacker, School of Rock) to create life as it happens — screw the Hollywood gloss. Before Sunset picks up nine years later. Jesse, now a best-selling author, is giving a reading at a bookstore in Paris. Celine, now an environmental activist, walks in. The conversation continues for ninety minutes, in real time, before Jesse must catch a plane home to his wife and son. Linklater follows the lovers — who had promised to reunite in Vienna in six months and never did — from cafe to park to boat to Celine's apartment. Those who hungered to see more of these two than the glimpse Linklater provided in his animated 2001 film Waking Life will be mesmerized. There is something uniquely unforgettable in the way Linklater, Hawke and Delpy (equal collaborators on the script) find nuance, art and eroticism in words, spoken and unspoken. The actors shine. Hawke is funny and touching as Jesse describes the harsh truths of his seeming success. Delpy likewise shows the toll of diminished expectations on the still-luminous Celine. But in each other's presence, the two rediscover a frisky youthfulness. Delpy scores a tour de force as Celine re-creates a Nina Simone concert that leaves Jesse entranced. You will be, too. Before Sunset casts a spell only a fool would want to break.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Long Walk Home”

    Bruce Springsteen | 2007

    When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

    More Song Stories entries »