Before Sunrise (1995)

by British Film Critic

Have you ever wanted to love a film so bad, and then at some point, you realise that you’ve already fallen in love with it, and you’re not even trying? That film, for me, was Before Sunrise. I was completely and utterly flawed by how beautiful and emotional and thoughtful and sincere this movie was, despite how much I already expected to love it going in. Richard Linklater’s ability to capture his rendition of ‘National Geographic, with humans’ blew me away in Dazed And Confused, and he takes that same prowess and uses it again to make something completely new, and completely extraordinary.

At its core, this film is unbelievably minimalistic but simplicity is often what allows for complexity, and that is exactly the case for Before Sunrise. The simplicity of the premise allows for the dialogue and performances to almost completely drive the film, and the complexity in the dialogue is unparalleled, continuously touching on a boundless range of philosophical ideas in such an organic way, that never feels contrived or forced, but always feels entirely natural. Something I picked up on which I found to be so genius was that as the two characters of Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Céline continue to progressively and noticeably fall in love with one another, you, the viewer, also begin to fall in love with these characters: their quirks, their flaws, their intelligence, their insights, their chemistry and everything in between.

Despite having only seen two of his films so far, I can’t help but feel like Richard Linklater is one of my favourite directors. His ability to create endlessly captivating characters, capture the subtleties of human interaction and the idiosyncrasies of exchanges and dialogue between people is unparalleled, and Before Sunrise proves that. Hawke and Delpy are nothing short of fantastic, perfectly playing off each other in such a human way, with Delpy’s Céline easily now being one of my favourite movie characters ever committed to screen. This film is an unabashed masterpiece in my eyes, delivering everything I could have possibly wanted from it, and so much more.