Warning: Plot spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution, especially if you’ve not seen either movie.
Before Sunrise ends with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) deciding to meet at the train station in a few months. When we begin the sequel, Jesse is in a bookstore in Paris talking about his book, which is a fictionalised version of the one night he spent with Celine. It’s the end of the European leg of book tour and he’s leaving Paris later that evening.
Celine turns up at the bookstore and Jesse is surprised to see her. They never exchanged phone numbers or addresses the last time around, so there was no way to contact each other. Oh yeah, and it’s nine years after they first met.
Jesse decides to spend some time with Celine before he has to catch his flight out of Paris. They first go to a cafe and the conversation is a little awkward. You can sense that they want to talk about what’s happened in their lives but they’re still strangers. They then walk around Paris and continue the conversation, which becomes more engaging as they exchange stories about their lives.
Did they meet earlier? What has happened in their lives in nine years? Will they hook-up in spite of the circumstances? This is some of the questions that the movie answers in its unique way.
This is a movie that can disappoint because it carries the weight of expectations of the original. Far from disappointing, it shines brightly just like the original. The dialogues are as good, if not better, the story moves forward nicely, and the relationship and its awkwardness are well-captured in the film. This time Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are co-writers on the screenplay with Richard Linklater.
Both Delpy and Hawke are even better in the sequel, something you wouldn’t think was possible. As misterblifil, a commenter, mentioned, both films work because of the incredible chemistry between Delpy and Hawke and the lovely interplay between their respective characters.
The movie’s taut, the story keeps moving, and you’re wondering about what’s going to happen. Even the ending is done well, and the only complaint I have is that, at 75 minutes, the movie’s short. It leaves you wanting more, which is something any good movie should do, but I really did want more.
But, I’m nitpicking, because this is a superb movie. Watch.