Before Sunset Movie Poster Image

Before Sunset



Charming, talky romance for older teens and adults.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 80 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Themes include communication, love, commitment, longing, fulfillment, spirituality, the meaning of life -- all are intellectualized in a thoughtful way.

Positive role models

Both characters are older and wiser than in the first movie. They are still thoughtful, articulate, romantic, and a bit impulsive. By the end of the movie, there's the implication that both characters will be unfaithful to their partners.

Not applicable

Explicit sexual references, though nothing happens. Lots of sexual tension and the implication that sex will occur.


Some strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and smoking by adults.

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.

Parents say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

  • How do the characters in Before Sunset demonstrate communication? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 1, 2004
DVD/Streaming release date:November 8, 2004
Cast:Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Vernon Dobtcheff
Director:Richard Linklater
Studio:Warner Independent
Character strengths:Communication
Run time:80 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and sexual references.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byProjektor June 13, 2015

One of most overrated films of all time. Very boring and story is quite bad.

This movie have lots of sex talks.
What other families should know
Too much sex