Before Sunset is a 2004 American romantic drama film, the sequel to Before Sunrise (1995). Like its predecessor, the film was directed by Richard Linklater. He shares screenplay credit with actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and with Kim Krizan, the screenwriter for the first film featuring these two characters.
The film picks up the story in Before Sunrise of the young American man (Hawke) and French woman (Delpy) who spent a passionate night together in Vienna. Their paths intersect nine years later in Paris, and the film appears to take place in real time as they spend an afternoon together.
Before Sunset received broad critical acclaim and has appeared on many publications' lists of the best films of the 2000s. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The directors and lead actors collaborated on another film following these characters, Before Midnight, which was released in 2013 and also gained acclaim.
Nine years before, Jesse and Céline had met and had a brief encounter in Vienna. Jesse's new novel, This Time, was inspired by that night, and becomes a bestseller. He does a book tour in Europe, including Paris. He does a reading at the noted bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. Flashbacks express elements of his time with Céline in Vienna. Three journalists attend the reading to interview Jesse: one is convinced the book's main characters meet again, another that they do not, and a third who wants them to but is doubtful that will occur. As Jesse speaks with the audience, his eyes wander and he sees Céline there, smiling at him.
After the presentation, the bookstore manager reminds Jesse of his need to leave for the airport in about an hour for his plane. Céline and Jesse's time together is again constrained. They make the best of it, and their conversations become deeply personal. They begin with themes of work and politics and, with increasing passion, approach their earlier feelings for each other.
They touch on their failure to have met as planned six months after their first encounter. Jesse returned to Vienna but Céline did not, because her grandmother had died suddenly. Since the pair had never exchanged addresses, they had no way to contact each other at the time.
Their talk reveals how their lives have changed during the nine years they spent apart. Jesse, now a writer, is married and has a son. Céline has become an advocate for the environment, and has a photojournalist boyfriend. They each express some dissatisfaction with their lives.
They talk as they walk in Paris, with scenes showing a café, garden, bateau mouche, and Jesse's hired car. Their former feelings are slowly rekindled, as their one night together looms large in memory, unmarred by ordinary trials. Jesse says his book was inspired by his hope of seeing Céline again. She says that it brought back painful memories. They begin to approach each other tentatively but pull back.
In the concluding scene, Céline and Jesse arrive at her apartment. Jesse persuades her to play a waltz on her guitar. Her song is about their earlier brief encounter. Jesse puts a Nina Simone CD on the stereo system. Céline dances to the song, "Just in Time," as Jesse watches her. Céline imitates Simone, saying, "Baby ... you are gonna miss that plane." Jesse smiles and says, "I know."
- Ethan Hawke as Jesse
- Julie Delpy as Céline
- Vernon Dobtcheff as Bookstore manager
- Louise Lemoine Torres as Journalist #1
- Rodolphe Pauly as Journalist #2
- Mariane Plasteig as Waitress
- Diabolo as Philippe
- Denis Evrard as Boat attendant
- Albert Delpy (Julie Delpy's father) as Man at grill
- Marie Pillet (Julie Delpy's mother) as Woman in courtyard
After the filming of Before Sunrise, Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy discussed making a sequel. Linklater considered a version to be filmed in four locations and with a much larger budget. When his proposal did not secure funding, he scaled back the concept of the movie. In a 2010 interview, Hawke said that the three had worked on several potential scripts over the years. As time passed and they did not secure funding, they adapted elements of the earlier scripts for Before Sunrise in their final draft of Before Sunset.
Linklater described the process of completing the final version of the film as:
- “We sat in a room and worked together in about a two- or three-day period, worked out a very detailed outline of the whole film in this sort of real-time environment. And then, over the next year or so, we just started e-mailing each other and faxing. I was sort of a conduit – they would send me monologues and dialogues and scenes and ideas, and I was editing, compiling and writing. And that's how we came up with a script.”
Hawke said, "It's not like anybody was begging us to make a second film. We obviously did it because we wanted to."
The movie was filmed entirely on location in Paris. It opens inside the Shakespeare and Company bookstore on the Left Bank. Other locations include their walking through the Marais district of the 4th arrondissement, Le Pure Café in the 11th arrondissement, the Promenade Plantée park in the 12th arrondissement, on board a bateau mouche from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Henri IV, the interior of a taxi, and finally "Céline's apartment." Described in the film as located at 10 rue des Petites-Écuries, it was filmed in Cour de l'Étoile d'Or off rue du Faubourg St-Antoine.
The movie was filmed in 15 days, on a budget of about US$2 million. The film is noted for its use of the Steadicam for tracking shots and its use of long takes, the longest of the Steadicam takes at about 11 minutes. As the summer was one of the hottest on record, the cast and crew suffered along with the city residents, as temperatures exceeded 100 degrees F (38 °C) for most of the production.
The film is notable for essentially taking place in real time, i.e. the time elapsed in the story is the run time of the film. In the fast-changing temperate Paris climate, this created challenges for the cinematographer Lee Daniel to match the color and intensity of the skies and ambient light from scene to scene. The scenes were mostly shot in sequence, as they were still developing the screenplay. Producer Anne Walker-McBay worked with less time and less money than she had on Before Sunrise, but still brought the film in on time and on budget. The sequel was released nine years after Before Sunrise, the same amount of time that has lapsed in the plot since the events of the first film.
The film was released in the wake of Hawke's divorce from Uma Thurman. Some commentators drew parallels between Hawke's personal life and the character of Jesse in the film. Additional comment has noted that both Hawke and Delpy incorporated elements of their own lives into the screenplay. Delpy wrote two of the songs featured in the film, and a third by her was included in the closing credits and movie soundtrack.
- Script error at Box Office Mojo
- Script error at Rotten Tomatoes
- Script error at Metacritic
- An interview with Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy by Los Angeles Times