Featuring perhaps one of the greatest movie romances of all time, Richard Linklater’s 1995 film Before Sunrise sees Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as Jesse and Celine, two people who forge a life-altering bond over the course of one night in Vienna. The first in a three part film series which will conclude with the release of Before Midnight next year, this is a truly charming introduction to the characters.
With its naturalistic dialogue and no strong narrative to speak of, Before Sunrise depends heavily on the performances of its two leads. Thankfully, Hawke and Delpy have startling chemistry, making the relationship that develops at once believable and unashamedly romantic. Moreover as Jesse and Celine they capture a mind-set, a particular attitude, which evokes not only the preoccupations of their own generation but of a great many twenty-somethings to this day.
With its laid back style and pacing, this is unmistakably Slacker-era Linklater. However in placing the focus on individual character development, he achieves a film which is more emotionally engaging than his earlier work. A romance for anyone turned off by the familiar sentimentality of Hollywood, Before Sunrise is still as sharp and refreshing today as it ever was.
Before Sunrise (1995), directed by Richard Linklater, is released on DVD in the UK by Warner Bros. Pictures.