Before Sunsetis a 2004 American romantic drama film and the sequel toBefore Sunrise(1995). Like its predecessor, the film was directed by Richard Linklater . However, this time Linklater shares screenplay credit with both actors from the movies, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy . Linklater also shares story credit with the originalBefore Sunrisescreenwriter Kim Krizan .
The film picks up the story inBefore Sunrisewhere a young American man (Hawke) and a young French woman (Delpy) meet on a train and spend one night in Vienna . Nine years later inBefore Sunset, their paths intersect again. It plays out in real time as they spend one afternoon together in Paris .
Before Sunsetreceived broad acclaim, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay .
Nine years have passed since the events ofBefore Sunrise, when Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) had met in Vienna. Since then, Jesse has written a novel,This Time, inspired by his time with Celine, and the book has become an American bestseller. To help sales in Europe , Jesse does a book tour. The last stop of the tour is Paris, and Jesse is doing a reading at the bookstore Shakespeare and Company . As Jesse talks with his audience, flashbacks are shown of him and Celine in Vienna; the memories of their night together have clearly remained with him despite nine years having elapsed. Three journalists are present at the bookstore, interviewing Jesse: a romantic who is convinced the book's main characters meet again, a cynic who is convinced that they don't, and a third one who, despite wanting them to meet again, remains doubtful they actually do. As he speaks with his audience his eyes wander to the side, and he can hardly believe it: Celine is smiling at him.
Once the presentation is over, the bookstore manager reminds him he has a plane to catch and must leave for the airport in a little more than an hour, and so just like inBefore Sunrise, Celine and Jesse's reunion is constrained by time. As in the earlier movie, the characters are forced to make the best of the little time they have together, making it easier for their conversations to become ever more personal, beginning with the usual thirty-something's themes of work and politics and then, with ever increasing passion, approaching their love for each other, just as their time together is running out.
Early in their conversation, they broach the subject of why they did not meet as promised six months after their first encounter. It turns out that Jesse had returned to Vienna, as promised, but Celine did not, because her grandmother had suddenly died before the scheduled date of the meeting. Because Jesse and Celine had never exchanged addresses, there was no way for them to contact each other, which resulted in their missed connection .
As they talk, each reveals what has happened in their lives since first meeting. Both are now in their early thirties. Jesse, now a writer, is married and has a son. Celine has become an advocate for the environment, lived in America for a time, and has a boyfriend, a photojournalist. It becomes clear in the course of their talk that both are dissatisfied to varying degrees with their lives. Jesse reveals that he only stays with his wife out of love for his son. Celine says that she does not see her boyfriend very much because he is so often on assignment.
Their conversation as they traverse Paris takes place in various venues, including a café, a garden, a bateau mouche , and Jesse's hired car for his stay in Paris. Their old feelings for each other are slowly rekindled, even with tension and regret over the missed meeting earlier, as they realize that nothing else in their lives has matched their one prior night together in Vienna. Jesse eventually admits that he wrote the book in the distant hope of meeting Celine again one day. She replies that the book brought back painful memories for her. At one point, in the hired car, during a tense moment when Jesse is confessing his loveless, near sexless marriage, Celine reaches her hand out to touch Jesse but pulls back just as he turns to her.
In the concluding scene, Celine and Jesse arrive at her apartment. Jesse had learned that Celine plays the guitar and persuades her to play a waltz song for him. The waltz (written by Delpy) is revealed through the lyrics to be about their brief encounter.
Jesse then plays a Nina Simone CD on the stereo system. Celine dances by herself to the song "Just in Time" as Jesse watches her. As Celine imitates Simone, she mutters to Jesse, "Baby ... you are gonna miss that plane." As the camera slowly pans in, Jesse smiles while nervously fidgeting with his wedding ring and responds, "I know", as the film ends.