Nine years ago, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) met in Vienna and spent a magical night together, their conversation blossoming into love. But they did not meet six months later as promised, and they moved on with their lives. Now Jesse has come to Paris to promote his book (inspired by that one night), and Celine comes to his book signing. He has an hour or so before his flight, and they head off together for coffee. Their conversation ranges over all manner of topics, graduall… becoming more and more personal as they come to terms with what they mean to each other.
I’ll be honest and admit that I never saw Before Sunrise, and so the sequel did not quite have the resonance for me that it otherwise would have. But that is my fault, and not the film’s. Taking place in real time (though the two characters range over a rather unlikely amount of Parisian geography in 80 minutes), the film captures the conversations between its leads to a degree of naturalism that stops just short of becoming excessive. Through the ebbs and flows of their dialogue, we witness them circling closer and closer to the emotional core of their encounter. Fans of the first film will, I think, be delighted. But even for those of us who haven’t seen the first, this is a mature and emotionally satisfying romance.
The audio may be in 5.1, but it could just as easily have been mono and there would have been no real diminishing of the experience. There is no music score except at the beginning and end, and background noise is kept to a minimum. Thus, there are no surround effects to distract us from the dialogue, which comes through with absolutely no distortion.
The time of day during which the film takes place is that soft light that immediately precedes sunset, and so some of the softness of the image is deliberate. There is still a bit more than necessary, and that extra bit I put down to the transfer. Otherwise, the colours are very good and natural, and there is no grain or visible edge enhancement.
Nothing much here: the theatrical trailer and a typical making-of promotional featurette. A couple of extra trailers play when the disc loads as well. The menu’s main screen is scored.
A thoughtful, verbose, grown-up romance. Not too many of those around.
Special Features List
- “On the Set of Before Sunset” Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer
- Bonus Trailers