Before Sunrise

Starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke
Screenplay by Richard Linklater
and Kim Krizan 
Directed by Richard Linklater
Running time 101 minutes
USA/Austria/Switzerland 1994

Perhaps the most extraordinary, ambitious and risk-taking film of 2014 has been Boyhood - Richard Linklater’s 3 hour chronicle of an American boy and his family shot over 12 years, in which the child actors involved grow up in front of our eyes.

  Born in Houston Texas, Linklater is a cinematic experimenter - he has worked in both animation and live action, his pictures have ranged from low budget slacker films to rotoscoped science fiction and broad comedies like School Of Rock. Many of his movies are set in the course of a single day.

  Twenty years ago Linklater made Before Sunrise - the first in a trilogy of films that in a similar way to Boyhood would be shot over two decades and see the two protagonists ageing and changing in each successive movie. This first episode introduces us to Celine and Jesse - two young people who meet by chance on a train journey and on impulse decide to get off and spend 12 hours together in Vienna before one of them flies home. In effect the narrative is one long conversation between them as the two walk all over the city, gradually revealing themselves to each other and falling in love in the process. Intimate, funny and intensely romantic Before Sunrise is a very modern love story which succeeds in touching  on some big questions about fulfilment and self-discovery. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are perfectly matched Jesse and Celine - their chemistry feels very real and their performances are nuanced and truthful. 

  They have since reprised their roles in Before Sunset and Before Midnight - each of which takes us through a day with them at different stages in their lives. The three films together make for that rarest of things in cinema - a trilogy in which each new part is as good as the last...