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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Before Sunset is targeted at adults, but older teens might enjoy the intellectual discussions between the couple, who thoughtfully discuss big ideas, from God to finding meaning in life. They discuss sex, too, sometimes explicitly, and there's an implication of adultery. Characters drink and smoke throughout in a casual manner.
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What's the story?
In the prequel to BEFORE SUNSET, Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise, two young people met on a train and impetuously agreed to spend a day together in Vienna. Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American student on his last day in Europe, and Celine (Julie Delpy), a French student on her way back to Paris, talked as though they had known each other forever. Nine years later, Jesse has now written a book about what remains the most vivid encounter of his life, and he comes to Paris for a book-signing. Celine is there. And once again, he has a plane to catch and they have just a few hours to walk through a European city and talk and talk and talk. With a driver standing by to take Jesse to the airport, the two walk through a garden, hop on a boat, and get into the back seat of the limo, all the while catching each other up with what's happened in the nine years since they parted ways, and exploring their feelings for each other
Is it any good?
There is still a powerful connection between Jesse and Celine and it still makes a powerful connection with the audience. Though they talk about big issues -- relationships, finding meaning in life, God, sex, regrets, romance vs. cynicism -- their insights are not especially fresh or well-expressed. But Hawke and Delpy understand the rhythms of conversations between two people who use words less to enlighten than to draw each other closer, words for flirtation and seduction, rapturously romantic. Sometimes they use what they say to hide. Often they say something teasing or slightly askew to get a laugh and to protect themselves from risking too much openness. But sometimes it is to reveal.
Because they helped to develop and co-wrote the script for Before Sunset, Hawke and Delpy inhabit the characters fully, with performances of great sensitivity and vulnerability. We are pulled toward them as they are pulled toward each other. They don't have the buoyant optimism of their first meeting. They are both a bit more fragile, but that means they are more aware of the preciousness and importance of what they hope to find in each other.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what might have happened if Jesse and Celine from Before Sunset had stayed together in Vienna. Would they have been ready for a relationship when they were younger? What do you think it is that draws them to each other?
What is the strength of this movie? What would have made it less successful?
- In theaters: July 1, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: November 8, 2004
- Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Vernon Dobtcheff
- Director: Richard Linklater
- Studio: Warner Independent
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Communication
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and sexual references.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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