Directed by Richard Linklater
I wish I could remember who defined "movie" as "life with the boring parts edited out" - if we accept that definition then Before Sunset is an anti-movie - they kept the boring and left out the engaging. They assembled a very capable cast -- Ethan Hawk as Jesse and Julie Delpy as Celine -- an accomplished director, Richard Linklater (1991's Slacker as well as last year's School of Rock) - but didn't feel the need to hire a writer. Every scene is essentially the same: the two of them talk about the last eight years since they had their one-night stand. Before Sunset is a sequel: Before Sunrise (1995), made by the same director and principal cast, is a much more spirited and dynamic film depicting the lovers' first encounter. Making a film work with nothing but two people on camera talking is very hard to do - film is primarily a visual medium and Before Sunset gives the viewer nothing to look at other than the two of them sitting around talking. If you're going to make a movie with nothing but dialog between two characters, the dialog better be damn good - and it's clearly not in this case.
Before Sunset is unusual among movies that I strongly dislike - there isn't a single scene that, taken alone, is objectionable in any way. Some of the scenes show considerable filmmaking craftsmanship - for example, some scenes were shot in one fairly long continuous take -- a few minutes. I admire that - so many of the movies these days are so chopped up by overactive editors that the viewer never feels the continuity of real life or live theater. When the film ended, even though I was relieved of my boredom, I still couldn't believe that I had seen the whole thing and nothing had happened. I wanted the Robert McKee character from Adaptation - so well played by Brian Cox - to leap onto the screen and yell something like, "That's not a movie! You've got to 'wow them' in the end."
Photographs are copyright Warner Independent Pictures.
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