Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Celine: I guess when you’re young, you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you’ll connect with. Later in life you realize it only happens a few times…
Nine years after they met on a train and had an amazing time together, Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) meet again in Paris. As they walk and talk, they gradually realize that all along maybe they’ve been wishing for a second chance at the possible relationship they let get away.
I’ll admit, I have not seen Before Sunrise, which this is a sequel to, but I don’t think that hurt my enjoyment of this film at all. They did a good job of filling in the back story enough that I didn’t feel I was missing anything and so that I really got a sense of how important that night was to these two people.
The movie is basically done in real time, from Jesse’s book signing at the beginning, to his and Celine’s walk to a coffee shop, then a walk to a boat, etc. We just follow them around for an hour or so as they reconnect and awaken old feelings.
Surprisingly, I rarely got bored or disinterested in their conversations. There were a few times where it felt hurried or forced, probably because they had to make sure they fit everything in as they walked from point A to point B, but for the most part it was very natural. I guess some of the topics, like the environment and government, were a little self-indulgent, but people do talk about those things, so I can give them a pass on trying to squeeze in a few personal messages and thoughts here and there.
The story is kind of a heartbreaking one. Did they both miss their one chance at true love, or is this actually a second chance? Jesse is married, but not happy in what relationship he and his wife still have. But with a son he loves deeply also in the picture, could he just leave his marriage for a second chance with Celine? It’s tough stuff they’re tackling, and I like how the characters really don’t have concrete answers, just theories. I also like how even though life experiences have taught them lessons, they still tend to repeat the same mistakes. That’s a very realistic, and depressing, thing to realize.
This is a movie that will get you thinking about, not just relationships you may have missed out on, but opportunities in general that you may have let pass by, thinking another will be just around the corner. There may never be a better one just around the corner, but…you might occasionally get a second chance at one you missed.
10 – 1.5 for a few hurried, forced moments – .2 for that shirt Ethan Hawke was wearing – .2 for a couple lulls = 8.1