Before Sunset

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Before Sunset
Before Sunset poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Linklater
Produced by Richard Linklater
Anne Walker-McBay
Screenplay by Richard Linklater
Ethan Hawke
Julie Delpy
Story by Richard Linklater
Kim Krizan
Based on Characters 
by Richard Linklater
and Kim Krizan
Starring Ethan Hawke
Julie Delpy
Music by Julie Delpy
Cinematography Lee Daniel
Edited by Sandra Adair
Castle Rock Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Independent Pictures
Release date(s)
  • February 10, 2004 (2004-02-10) (BIFF)
  • July 2, 2004 (2004-07-02)
Running time 80 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.7 million[2]
Box office $15,992,615

Before Sunset is a 2004 American romantic drama film, the sequel to Before Sunrise (1995) and the predecessor to Before Midnight (2013). Like its predecessor, the film was directed by Richard Linklater. However, this time Linklater shares screenplay credit with both actors from the film, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Linklater also shares story credit with the original Before Sunrise screenwriter Kim Krizan.

The film picks up the story in Before Sunrise where a young American man (Hawke) and a young French woman (Delpy) meet on a train and spend one night in Vienna. Nine years later in Before Sunset, their paths intersect again. It plays out in real time as they spend one afternoon together in Paris.

Before Sunset received broad acclaim, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.


Nine years have passed since the events of Before Sunrise, when Jesse and Céline had met in Vienna. Since then, Jesse has written a novel, This Time, inspired by his time with Céline, and the book has become an American bestseller. To help sales in Europe, Jesse does a book tour. The last stop of the tour is Paris, and Jesse is doing a reading at the bookstore Shakespeare and Company. As Jesse talks with his audience, flashbacks are shown of him and Céline in Vienna; the memories of their night together have clearly remained with him despite nine years having elapsed. Three journalists are present at the bookstore, interviewing Jesse: a romantic who is convinced the book's main characters meet again, a cynic who is convinced that they do not, and a third one who, despite wanting them to meet again, remains doubtful they actually do. As he speaks with his audience his eyes wander to the side, and he can hardly believe it: Céline is smiling at him.

Once the presentation is over, the bookstore manager reminds him he has a plane to catch and must leave for the airport in a little more than an hour, and so just like in Before Sunrise, Céline and Jesse's reunion is constrained by time. As in the earlier movie, the characters are forced to make the best of the little time they have together, making it easier for their conversations to become ever more personal, beginning with the usual thirty-something's themes of work and politics and then, with ever increasing passion, approaching their love for each other, just as their time together is running out.

Early in their conversation, they broach the subject of why they did not meet as promised six months after their first encounter. It turns out that Jesse had returned to Vienna, as promised, but Céline did not, because her grandmother had suddenly died before the scheduled date of the meeting. Because Jesse and Céline had never exchanged addresses, there was no way for them to contact each other, which resulted in their missed connection.

As they talk, each reveals what has happened in their lives since first meeting. Both are now in their early thirties. Jesse, now a writer, is married and has a son. Céline has become an advocate for the environment, lived in America for a time, and has a boyfriend, a photojournalist. It becomes clear in the course of their talk that both are dissatisfied to varying degrees with their lives. Jesse reveals that he only stays with his wife out of love for his son. Céline says that she does not see her boyfriend very much because he is so often on assignment.

Their conversation as they traverse Paris takes place in various venues, including a café, a garden, a bateau mouche, and Jesse's hired car for his stay in Paris. Their old feelings for each other are slowly rekindled, even with tension and regret over the missed meeting earlier, as they realize that nothing else in their lives has matched their one prior night together in Vienna. Jesse eventually admits that he wrote the book in the distant hope of meeting Céline again one day. She replies that the book brought back painful memories for her. At one point, in the hired car, during a tense moment when Jesse is confessing his loveless, near sexless marriage, Céline reaches her hand out to touch Jesse but pulls back just as he turns to her.

In the concluding scene, Céline and Jesse arrive at her apartment. Jesse had learned that Céline plays the guitar and persuades her to play a waltz song for him. The waltz (written by Delpy) is revealed through the lyrics to be about their brief encounter.

Jesse then plays a Nina Simone CD on the stereo system. Céline dances by herself to the song "Just in Time" as Jesse watches her. As Céline imitates Simone, she playfully imitates Simone's voice and says to Jesse, "Baby ... you are gonna miss that plane." As the camera slowly pans in, Jesse smiles while nervously fidgeting with his wedding ring and responds, "I know", as the film ends.


  • Ethan Hawke as Jesse
  • Julie Delpy as Céline
  • Vernon Dobtcheff as Bookstore manager
  • Louise Lemoine Torres as Journalist #1
  • Rodolphe Pauly as Journalist #2
  • Mariane Plasteig as Waitress
  • Diabolo as Philippe
  • Denis Evrard as Boat attendant
  • Albert Delpy (Julie Delpy's father) as Man at grill
  • Marie Pillet (Julie Delpy's mother) as Woman in courtyard


After Before Sunrise, Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy had spent time considering the possibility of a sequel. Linklater described an early version as being more like a traditional romantic comedy, filmed in four locations and with a much larger budget, but when they failed to secure funding, the ideas for the movie were scaled back.[3] In a 2010 interview Hawke revealed that the three of them had worked on several potential scripts over the years following the first film, including one for a story that took place two years after Before Sunrise, but as time went on and the lack of funding meant that the film was not made immediately, parts of the earlier scripts were included in the final draft of Before Sunset instead.[4] Linklater said that the process of creating the final version of the film was that "we sat in a room and worked together in about a two- or three-day period, worked out a very detailed outline of the whole film in this sort of real-time environment. And then, over the next year or so, we just started e-mailing each other and faxing. I was sort of a conduit – they would send me monologues and dialogues and scenes and ideas, and I was editing, compiling and writing. And that's how we came up with a script."[3] Hawke said about the reason for making the film, "It's not like anybody was begging us to make a second film. We obviously did it because we wanted to."[5]

The movie was filmed entirely on location in Paris. It opens inside the Shakespeare and Company bookstore on the Left Bank, and after following Jesse and Céline walking along the streets outside the bookstore and in the Marais district of the 4th arrondissement, the other locations are the Le Pure Café in the 11th arrondissement, the Promenade Plantée park in the 12th arrondissement, on board a bateau mouche from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Henri IV, the interior of a taxi, and finally "Céline's apartment," described in the film as located at 18 passage des Petites-Ecuries but actually filmed in Cour de l'Étoile d'Or off rue du Faubourg St-Antoine.

The movie was filmed in just 15 days, on a budget of about US$2 million.[3][6] The film is noted for its use of the Steadicam for tracking shots and its use of long takes, with the longest of the Steadicam takes at about 11 minutes.[6] The summer was one of the hottest on record, and the cast and crew suffered along with the citizens of Paris as temperatures exceeded 100 degrees F (38 °C) for most of the production. Noteworthy too is that the film takes place essentially in real time, i.e. the time elapsed in the story is also the run time of the film. In the fast changing temperate Paris climate, this created challenges for the cinematographer Lee Daniel to match the color and intensity of the skies and ambient light from scene to scene. Adding to the difficulty, the scenes were mostly shot in sequence as the screenplay was still being developed as the film was shot. Producer Anne Walker-McBay worked with less time and less money than she had on Before Sunrise, and struggled to bring the film in on time and on budget, which she was ultimately able to do. The sequel was released nine years after Before Sunrise, the same amount of time that has lapsed in the plot since the events of the first film.

The film appeared in the wake of Hawke's divorce from Uma Thurman, and some commentators drew parallels between Hawke's own life and the character of Jesse in the film.[7] Additional comment has noted that both Hawke and Delpy incorporated elements of their own lives into the screenplay,[6][8] such as the fact that Delpy lived for several years in New York City. Delpy also wrote two songs featured in the film. A third was included in the closing credits and movie soundtrack.


Before Sunset premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2004, and received a limited release in the United States on July 2, 2004.

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $219,425 in 20 theaters in the United States, averaging $10,971 per theater. During its entire theatrical run, the film grossed $5.8 million in the United States and nearly $16 million worldwide.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Before Sunset received a highly positive reception from the critics. It held a 95% favorable rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 159 reviews,[9] and was assigned a weighted average score of 90/100 by Metacritic based on 39 reviews from mainstream publications, indicating "universal acclaim".[10] The film appeared on 28 critics' top 10 lists of the best films of 2004,[11] and took the 27th spot on Metacritic's list of The Best-Reviewed Movies of the Decade (2000–09).[12] In the United Kingdom, the film was ranked the 110th greatest movie of all time by a 2008 Empire poll.[13] In 2010, the critics at The Guardian placed Before Sunrise/Before Sunset at number 3 in their list of the best romantic films of all time, and called the ending of Before Sunset "one of the most tantalising and ingenious endings in all cinema."[14]

In comparing this film with the original, film critic Roger Ebert wrote, "Before Sunrise was a remarkable celebration of the fascination of good dialogue. But Before Sunset is better, perhaps because the characters are older and wiser, perhaps because they have more to lose (or win), and perhaps because Hawke and Delpy wrote the dialogue themselves."[15] In her review for the Los Angeles Times, Manohla Dargis lauded the film as a "deeper, truer work of art than the first," and complimented director Linklater for making a film that "keeps faith with American cinema at its finest."[16]

Reviewing the acting, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone observed, "Hawke and Delpy find nuance, art and eroticism in words, spoken and unspoken. The actors shine."[17] Philip French of The Observer wrote, "Both Hawke and Delpy are excellent and their performances have real depth. This time, too, they're doing more than appearing as fictional creations in a Richard Linklater film. They now share the writing credit with him and are clearly putting much of their experiences of the past decade into characters they have possessed and been possessed by."[18]

On the merits of the script, A. O. Scott of The New York Times noted, it was "sometimes maddening," but "also enthralling, precisely because of its casual disregard for the usual imperatives of screenwriting." He further elaborated, "Can't they just say what they mean? Can you? Language, after all, is not just about points and meanings. It is a medium of communication, yes, but also of avoidance, misdirection, self-protection and plain confusion, all of which are among the themes of this movie, which captures a deep truth seldom acknowledged on screen or in books."[19]

Top 10 lists

As noted by Metacritic, the film appeared on the following critics' top 10 lists of 2004.[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]



Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy all suggested the possibility of a sequel to Before Sunset,[4][20][21][22] with Hawke saying that it would be nice to develop further the course of Jesse and Céline's relationship and stating that "I'll be shocked if we never make another one".[23][24] In a video interview in November 2011, Hawke said that he, Delpy and Linklater "have been talking a lot in the last six months... all three of us have been having similar feelings that we're kind of ready to revisit those characters... there's nine years between the first two movies... if we made the film next summer, it would be nine years again, so we started thinking that would be a good thing to do. So we're going to try and write it this year."[25][26] In June 2012, Hawke confirmed that the sequel to Before Sunset would be filmed in summer 2012.[27] In September 2012, it was announced the sequel, entitled Before Midnight, had completed filming and would premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013.[28] The film was released in May to widespread acclaim,[29] and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.[30]


  1. ^ "BEFORE SUNSET (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2004-05-27. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  2. ^ a b "Before Sunset (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Ross, Matthew. "Paris by Day". FilmMaker (Spring 2004) (Independent Filmmaker Project). Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Weintraub, Steve "Frosty" (January 4, 2010). "Ethan Hawke on a 3rd BEFORE SUNRISE/BEFORE SUNSET Movie". Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  5. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (October 8, 2005). "Forget me not". The Guardian (London, England). Retrieved August 10, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c Marshall, Lee (July 19, 2004). "Love that goes with the flow". The Daily Telegraph (London, England). Retrieved August 11, 2007. 
  7. ^ Halpern, Dan (October 8, 2005). "Another sunrise". The Guardian (London, England). Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  8. ^ Said, S.F. (July 9, 2004). "Keeping the dream alive". The Daily Telegraph (London, England). Retrieved August 11, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Before Sunset". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Before Sunset". Metacritic. Retrieved November 19, 2009. 
  11. ^ a b "Metacritic: 2004 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on May 27, 2008. Retrieved February 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ "The Best Movies of the Decade". Metacritic. Archived from the original on May 3, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Empire Features – 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  14. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (October 16, 2010). "Before Sunrise/Before Sunset: No 3 best romantic film of all time". The Guardian (London, England). Archived from the original on February 1, 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2011. 
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 2, 2004). "Before Sunset Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  16. ^ Dargis, Manohla (July 2, 2004). "'Before Sunset' – Movie Review". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 23, 2008. Retrieved February 13, 2011. 
  17. ^ Travers, Peter (June 16, 2004). "Before Sunset : Review : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 30, 2011. 
  18. ^ French, Philip (July 25, 2004). "Brief re-encounter". The Observer (London, England). Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  19. ^ Scott, A. O. (July 2, 2004). "FILM REVIEW: Reunited, Still Talking, Still Uneasy". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  20. ^ Weintraub, Steve "Frosty" (November 24, 2009). "Exclusive: Richard Linklater on BEFORE SUNRISE, BEFORE SUNSET, and Would They Ever Make a Third Film". Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  21. ^ Applebaum, Stephen (June 11, 2010). "Ethan Hawke joins the NYPD and leaves criminals star-struck". The Independent (London, England). Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  22. ^ Vary, Adam B. (January 25, 2012). "Sundance: Chris Rock and Julie Delpy on '2 Days in New York', a 'Before Sunset' sequel, and Spike Lee's infamous tirade". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  23. ^ Adler, Shawn (July 5, 2007). "Ethan Hawke Laments Lost 'Before Sunset' Threequel". MTV News. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  24. ^ Wood, James (June 11, 2005). "The last word". The Guardian (London, England). Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  25. ^ Baronnet, Brigitte (November 18, 2011 - interview filmed November 2, 2011). "Ethan Hawke, l'interview blind-test". AlloCiné. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  26. ^ Shoard, Catherine (November 23, 2011). "Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy wake up to possibility of Before Sunrise sequel". The Guardian (London, England). Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  27. ^ Smith, Nigel M. (June 13, 2012). "'The Woman in the Fifth' Star Ethan Hawke Gets Personal and Talks 'Before Sunset' Follow-Up". IndieWire. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  28. ^ Knegt, Peter (September 5, 2012). "Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke Complete 'Before Midnight'; Set 2013 Release". IndieWire. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Before Midnight (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  30. ^ "86th Academy Awards Nominations: Complete List and Scorecard". Variety. January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 

External links[edit]