Before Surise/Sunset/Midnight – Review

After seeing Before Midnight this week, I felt like I had to write something about this superb trilogy.

You can take your smashtastic superheros, your apocalyptic action adventures, your rom com zom voms and your fairytale flops and stick them where the sun don’t etc.


The “Before” series (for want of a better name) makes the aforementioned movie mega hits look small and shallow in comparison.

Before Sunrise was released in 1994 to critical acclaim (100% on Rotten Tomatoes), the story of two strangers meeting by chance and spending the day and night walking around Vienna chatting holds within it, charm and intelligence but most importantly; truth. The collaborative writing and improvisations give the two characters such realism, unlike the multitudes of rom coms where you find yourself saying “Shah, yeah they fell in love in five minutes, of course,” cue montage. Celine and Jessie however discuss life, philosophy and dreams without pretention rearing its ugly head, giving a real sense of plausibility.

Before Sunset takes place ten years later resolving the ambiguous ending of Before Sunrise, I don’t want to spoil the story, but I’ll tell you the film takes place in real time over an hour and a half, once again walking through a European city.

There is nothing repetitive or stale about this however. Jessie and Celine are ten years older and in a different phase of their life, bringing with it new questions about life to discuss, reflecting on the past and looking to the future.

Most recently Before Midnight was released, it’s nine years on and we spend the day again with Jessie and Celine. I actually feel Before Midnight is the better of the three films, bringing more sharp humour into the mix. The scene around the dinner table is a definite highlight with superb performances from the supporting cast.

Essentially the trilogy is about love and the challenges of life vs the ideal and romantic notions of the world. Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke have created something truly special and I urge you to watch.

If you enjoyed Julie Delpy’s performance and style I suggest you watch 2 days in Paris and 2 days in New York.

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