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Friday, January 25, 2013

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and the Announcement of Before Midnight

A Chance Meeting That Will Forever Change Their Lives

By Chris Sabga

A young man and woman meet on a train and decide to spend one enchanted evening in each other's company. Presented almost in real-time, Richard Linklater's "Before Sunrise" follows them as they walk, talk, and explore the stunning streets of Vienna together.  

Their names are Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy), and virtually all of the film's 105 minutes is devoted to their conversation. There are no grandiose quotes or clever quips, just two real people talking about real life – and it's absolutely enthralling.

When "Before Sunrise" was released in 1995, there was nothing else quite like it. It was and remains one of the truly great "silver screen surprises."

Hawke and Delpy briefly reprised the same characters in Linklater's 2001 animated film, "Waking Life," where they appeared in a dream. However, the likelihood of a true follow-up to "Before Sunrise" seemed to be just that – an impossible dream.

"Sunrise" was a niche favorite beloved by everyone who had seen it, but in commercially-driven Hollywood, sequels are usually reserved only for the biggest blockbusters.

Miraculously, it happened in 2004 with the release of "Before Sunset." Jesse and Celine reunite for the first time in nine years. What have they been up to since their original meeting? 

As they walk around France, they once again engage in a long, in-depth, fascinating conversation. Lingering questions are answered and new ones are asked as they reminisce about their short time together in Vienna almost a decade before and fill each other in on the current state of their lives.

"Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" are beautiful travelogues with lovely characters and engaging dialogue, but they're also wonderful meditations on life, love, and those unexpected forks in the road.

Several months ago, there were rumors that a third movie, "Before Midnight," was being filmed in Greece. Still, its sudden premiere this week at the Sundance Film Festival caught everyone by surprise.

Will "Midnight" be the final chapter in this amazing series?  Ethan Hawke considers it a possibility. In an interview, he stated, "we may have come to the end of the story." I hope not. I would love to see these characters meet again every decade or so for the rest of their lives.

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