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Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you care about the characters, 25 July 2013
This review is from: Before Sunrise / Before Sunset [DVD] (DVD)
I'd never heard of this cult indie (now) trilogy of films starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke before the recent release of Before Midnight.

In the first film of the trilogy, Before Sunrise, Julie Delpy's student Celine and Ethan Hawke's Jesse meet on a train in Vienna one afternoon, hit it off, and wander around the city until the morning when Jesse is due to board a plane back to the USA and Celine returns to Paris.

Both leads pulled off the trick of making the conversation seem completely natural and unscripted. They're earnest and sensitive without being annoying. Julie Delpy in particular is fresh, vivacious and has great presence. Vienna looks fab, and the ending, with the camera panning over all the places that the two visited together, is suitably sad and effectively empty. The timeliness of the film in itself is also rather affecting. A few years later and the two would have been swapping email and either Facebook fast tracking to happy ever after or petering out to nothing.

Ten years later, in Before Sunset, and Jesse has written a bestselling novel about their night in Vienna. He is in Paris on a book tour and who should turn up to see him but Celine?

I found Before Sunset a lot more interesting than Before Sunrise. The characters seem deeper and more humorous than they were Before Sunrise. Also, we recognise them and they recognise each other. Seeing each other again is obviously a high point in their lives, but there is also slight friction between them, personally and culturally.

It is also more urgent. They don't have long together before Jesse's plane leaves, and the film unfolds in real time (I seem to recall Jesse talking about real time film on the train in Before Sunrise, all those years ago). As we do become more urgent in our thirties, in a more global sense, the sense of possibility we felt when we were younger fast tapering off.

I like the fact that Before Sunset builds on Before Sunrise. If I had only seen Before Sunrise, I would not have known what all the fuss was about. It's fascinating that the film makes you care about the characters, not through the usual tricks of suspense or peril or engaging your sympathy but simply by making them seem real. I am also looking forward to Before Midnight, and seeing how that will develop the characters further.

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