This 2004 follow-up to Richard Linlater’s 1995 Before Sunrise is a first-date movie for people who fancy themselves as having more going on upstairs. But grey matter to one side, do you need to have seen the first film to enjoy the second? Probably not, though it helps to know that in Before Sunrise Ethan Hawke had fulfilled every heterosexual male InterRailer’s wildest fantasy – by meeting the stomach-churningly beautiful, witty and, very important, French Julie Delpy on a train and having a night of flirtatious intellectual chat and wild adventure with her.
By the end of Before Sunrise both parties are agreed – it’s love and they are absolutely definitely going to meet again, time and place all locked down. That meeting never happens. Now, nine years on, they bump into each other in Paris quite by accident. Each is now in a relationship. Each is older and reasonably successful. So? Do they? Well, the joy of this sequel is that director Richard Linklater and the two stars – both of whom are more or less improvising all the way – tantalisingly hold off the outcome, leaving Hawke and Delpy to indulge in cerebral foreplay, discussing how the intervening nine years have treated both themselves and the world. As they flirt with each other, the film flirts with us.
It’s talky, it’s slightly self-satisfied but it’s undeniably romantic too.
© Steve Morrissey 2006
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