Richard Linklater, 2004, U.S./France, 80m
English and French with English subtitles

Before Sunset picks up nine years after Sunrise’s open-ended finale. The immediate question—did Jesse and Céline reunite in Vienna six months later, as planned?—soon gets eclipsed by other, knottier ones: questions of commitment, fidelity, responsibility, and the great subject of Linklater’s trilogy, time. The setting has been relocated from Vienna to Paris, and the time frame narrowed from 12 hours to two. Jesse and Céline themselves have changed: they’re less self-conscious and less self-satisfied, worried about the extent to which their lives are ossifying, nervous about settling into adulthood. But the most jarring change is in Delpy and Hawke, whose noticeably tauter, wearier faces seem to have registered all their characters’ setbacks and disappointments. Before Sunset is packed with moments of heartbreaking emotional clarity—a series of initial flashbacks, a painful ferry-boat ride, a taxi meltdown—and ends, like its predecessor, with a gesture that works as both a tease and a consummation (with some help, in this case, from Nina Simone).

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Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) meet on a cross-Europe train. In Vienna, they walk, talk, look around—and fall unexpectedly in love.

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Support Our Artistic Community

Lincoln Center is committed to the power of the arts and the important role it plays in our lives. Give today to join our mission and help champion the future of Lincoln Center.

A contribution of any size makes a big impact!