Before Sunrise

Movie review by
Elliot Panek, Common Sense Media
Before Sunrise Movie Poster Image
Two strangers quickly fall in love, discuss big ideas.
  • R
  • 1995
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Celebrates youth, spontaneity, romance, adventure, and explores themes of honesty, identity, commitment all in a very intellectual way. A major theme is communication.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both characters are flawed, but real and generally "good." Both seem hesitant or cynical at times, and are not always honest with each other initially. But both are also smart, thoughtful, and interesting people.


Lots of frank discussion of sex and love, with some kissing, and the implication of sex.


Some casual swearing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some casual drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Before Sunrise's straightforwardness is bound to make its ideas about sex, romance, and religion convincing to a late-teen audience in search of answers for life's toughest questions. Sex, however, is only implied and is dealt with in a very serious, respectful manner. There's a bit of language, and not much action, so teens who are looking for a shoot 'em up movie will be sorely disappointed.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byVeronagirl May 12, 2020

A great model of human communication and interaction

This movie represents the values and ideas of the 90s in that the characters in it are wholly present and give each other the undivided attention they deserve.... Continue reading
Adult Written bypit623 April 9, 2008
Teen, 15 years old Written bySecondSider August 2, 2013

No cliches, no stereotypes, all original.

Completely amazing romance film. It should be okay for those around my age.
Teen, 15 years old Written by80sfan8 August 28, 2012

Fine for teens.

I think this is perfectly fine for teens. The reason it has an R rating is because of the swearing. Besides the swearing and talks about sex, there really isn... Continue reading

What's the story?

BEFORE SUNRISE tells the story most familiar to all films in a most unfamiliar way. While traveling through Europe, young American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets a French art student Celine (Julie Delpy). The two strike up a spirited conversation on a train and spontaneously decide to spend an evening together, walking the streets of Vienna. The film is comprised entirely of long takes of Jesse and Celine talking, interspersed with short, subtle glimpses of the poets, performers, and monks that inhabit the Viennese night. On trains, on a ferris wheel, walking through graveyards, they talk about their personal histories, love, sex, death, and God. They fall in love, knowing that this will be the only night they will spend together.

Is it any good?

It's the commitment the film makes to the two main characters, and their budding relationship that makes the film so completely enthralling. More than most films, Before Sunrise depends upon the likeability of these characters.

Flaws are included, the disagreements between the couple as essential to establishing the realism that sets the film apart as the intimate connections they make. They hide their vulnerability behind humor and try to talk their way out of the sadness of saying goodbye. Director Richard Linklater's style is appealingly unobtrusive. He lingers on scenes when another director would've cut away, allowing the dialogue and the actors to speak for themselves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the possible downside to brief romances like the one in Before Sunrise. Trusting a raffish stranger on a train may be romantic, but could it be dangerous? How does one balance the need to be romantic and free-spirited with responsibility? Is there a way to be careful about romantic relationships without being jaded or unromantic?

  • How is it possible to keep audiences entertained without much action? Would this movie have been as successful with different actors?

  • How do Jesse and Celine demonstrate communication in Before Sunrise? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

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