In 2021, The Independent ranked the Before Trilogy third on its list of “10 greatest movie trilogies of all time”. Whether you love Sunrise, Sunset, or Midnight, ranking them feels impossible as one leads to the next. The question asks what chapter captures Jesse and Celine’s moments best as love continuously changes over time? The answer, for me, is all of them.
Nearly 30 years ago, director and co-writer Richard Linklater introduced us to the characters of Jesse and Celine, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Inspired by Linklater’s own experiences, in the first installment of the Before trilogy, Before Sunrise follows Jesse and Celine as they meet on a Eurail train and disembark in Vienna to spend the entire night together walking and talking through the streets of the city.
The romantic drama explores time, death, and self-discovery of two in their early 20s. Before Sunrise premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in early 1995 and received praise for for it’s exploration of postmodern romance, the screenplay, Linklater’s direction, and undoubtedly the acting.
The sequel, Before Sunset, was released in 2004 followed by Before Midnight which was released in 2013.
In Before Sunset, we see Jesse and Celine reunited in Paris nine years later for one day hoping for an extension of their romance. With Before Midnight, we find the characters an additional nine years later together on a trip to Greece as a family. With the astounding arguments they have in Before Midnight, it makes us wonder if love really lasts. But all in all, we cannot look away from these characters.
“We see their 20s, 30s, and 40s. We see what time has done. We are shown how love has changed, how love has remained, how the family grows beyond the two of them, but Jesse and Celine are still a story all their own.” via Film Companion
Whichever chapter you gravitate toward, each one is a pure definition of what love can transform into.
What cinephiles, myself included, and fans of the trilogy want to know most is…will there be another chapter?
“We constantly daydream about a possible right idea,” Hawke says. “Like, the reason why the first three happened so organically is we all mysteriously wanted to write the same movie. But we’ve never had the same idea [for a fourth].” Have there been ideas? “Sure, ideas have been put forward — like, wow, what if Jesse and Céline were in quarantine. We put forward ideas like, what if something bad happened to one of us?” via GQ
If you want my opinion, as much as I adore seeing these characters age and contemplate what love is and has become, Hawke has a good point. Let’s not tamper with a practically perfect trilogy. Let’s leave it as what it is, and re-watch it as often as possible.
Before Sunrise and Sunset are currently streaming on HBO. Before Midnight can be rented on Amazon Prime.
“I am giving you my whole life ok? I got nothing larger to give, I’m not giving it to anybody else. If you’re looking for permission to disqualify me, I’m not gonna give it to you. Ok? I love you. And I’m not in conflict about it. Okay? But if what you want is like a laundry list of all the things that piss me off, I can give it to you.” — Jesse, Before Midnight
2 thoughts on “Talking About the “Before” Trilogy”
It is one of the greatest film trilogies ever and I don’t think it needs another film. It’s already one year too late to make a sequel so what’s the point of it.
I agree completely. Plus, what would it cover that would really be necessary???