Time Out says
It looks like a walk in the park – and a coffee stop, and a float down the Seine – but Linklater’s magic-hour impromptu lights up passions and possibilities most films don’t dream of. A more seasoned follow-up to ‘Before Sunrise’, in which Ethan Hawke’s rambling young American and Julie Delpy’s French student waxed romantic over one charmed night in Vienna, it’s some companion piece: a modest resumption of a love story whose pristine naturalism is never breached by its concurrent self-reflexiveness as a fiction and sequel. The couple themselves remain as self-conscious as they are direct, aware that this reunion is both a reprise and a new chapter, a turn full-circle and another waypoint down the line; they speculate on dreams, make-believe, and the idea of being characters in someone’s else’s scheme – suggesting fiction as a metaphor for fate.
Chinese boxes-style, they’ve even translated their memories of Vienna into their own art: he a book, she a song… It’s at his final reading in Paris that they meet again (did he ever meet the girl again, one of his audience asks? The answer depends on whether you’re a romantic or a cynic, he tells her), and they step out for a coffee in his window before he catches a flight home. ‘I think I might have written that entire book just to find you again,’ he tells her, as their preliminaries give way to heartier expressions of remorse and frustration: the cynic in Linklater (and Hawke and Delpy, who co-wrote) has been at work in the intervening years, buffeting their idealism and queering the reality of that night of lost magic. The film picks up momentum with them – Linklater still does the connections and evasions of dialogue like no one but Rohmer – before delightfully slipping a gear for a sublimely wound-down ending. At the risk of overhyping 80 minutes of intimate real-time, this is the soul of generosity, a beautifully vibrant and big-spirited film.
Cast and crew
Louise Lemoine Torres