(2004)4.5Perry Seibert"I really believe that if there's any kind of God, he wouldn't be in any one of us -- not you, not me, but just this space in between. If there's some magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone else, sharing something. Even if it's almost impossible to succeed, but who cares, the answer must be in the attempt."
Those words were spoken in Before Sunrise and they represent not only the theme of that film, but also a statement of purpose for director Richard Linklater, whose every film has been about attempting to forge connections. Before Sunset continues with this theme, but it has the wisdom to understand how difficult maintaining those connections can be. Over the course of about 85 minutes -- presented in real time -- Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) talk in an endless flow of words that reveals them each to be essentially the same people they were when they last saw each other nine years before, while still acknowledging that both have been colored from suffering the typical disappointments of life. The dialogue, as is usually the case in any Linklater film, sparkles with intelligence -- and these actors are easily up to the challenge. Delpy and Hawke co-wrote this sequel with Linklater. Reportedly, their work did not divide along gender lines, making this film more of a generational statement than an examination of men and women. While the first film showed Generation X that romantic love was possible in the age of irony, Before Sunset lets that same generation know how difficult life and love can actually be. The regrets and disappointments these characters feel toward themselves and each other should be familiar to anyone, but the great achievement is that never once do these characters feel like spokespeople. These are two living, breathing three-dimensional people, and their specificity -- something that is heightened by the real-time structure of the film -- allows the viewer to feel remarkably close to them. There is nothing artificial about Before Sunset, and thanks to that honesty, the flawless technical aspects of the film, and the incomparable writing and acting, Linklater has lived up to his artistic sense of purpose. He has attempted to share, he has attempted to understand someone else, and most remarkably, he has defied the odds and succeeded. Before Sunset is divine.