Running Time: 80 mins.
Rated: Rated M.
In 1995, audiences were divided concerning Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise. Some thought it a tedious talk-fest, a young man and a young woman meet by chance and spend several hours in a train journey and a walk through Vienna, discussing a range of experiences that interested them both (but not, apparently, some of the audiences). Others thought it an absorbing and thoughtful, intelligent and relevant reflection on contemporary life and values by the young. It won the prize for Best Director at the 1995 Berlin Film Festival and a commendation from the Ecumenical Journey.
Nine years later, the director, Richard Linklater, has teamed up with his two stars, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and brought them together for more talking and sharing. Nine years on, he is a successful novelist on a tour of France, she is a worker for an environmental group who comes to his interview to meet him again. This time the film works with screen time as real time. The conversation goes for about 80 minutes before he is to go to the airport for his plane.
Hawke and Delpy have matured physically and in dramatic stature. He is more laid-back, ironic but earnest in asking questions and talking about his failures. She is even more vivacious, a little hardened by her experiences, more emotional and sometimes volatile, with a great yearning for (and fear of) being loved.
Their conversations are stimulating even if they do run through them at a rapid rate, alighting on all kinds of issues, often making astute observations that can strike a chord in the audience. For those who liked Before Sunrise, Before Sunset is a must. For those who did not, this sequel should be avoided. But, it is still good to see younger film-makers working on an intelligent adult drama.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association for Catholic Communications and an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.