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Rotten Tomatoes' Top-Rated Ethan Hawke Romance

Rotten Tomatoes’ Top-Rated Ethan Hawke Romance

In addition to starring, Hawke and Delpy also co-wrote Linklater’s sequels “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight,” which came out in 2004 and 2013. The films catch up with Jesse and Céline in real-time, with “Sunset” revealing what ultimately became of the pair in the intervening years since “Sunrise” and “Midnight” showing what their lives are like in their 40s. It’s clear that Hawke and Delpy’s script contributions to these films were substantial, presumably allowing them to sort through the emotional baggage they had accumulated in their own lives using the fictional ones of their onscreen counterparts.

Your perspective on each film can vary greatly depending on how many miles you’ve got under your belt. People the same age as Jesse and Céline in “Sunrise” might find them entrancing, while those who are older and/or more experienced may be irritated by their naïveté (or perhaps simply wistful of it). If you’ve already dated a real-life Jesse or Céline, you may even find a lot of their conversations to be peppered with red flags. Alternatively, you could find yourself drawn more to the evolved iterations of the characters in “Sunset,” coupled with the film’s depiction of 30-something malaise and its suggestion that reconnection, while unlikely, is not impossible. Or maybe you’ll find yourself most compelled by “Midnight” and its argument that something real, flawed, and possibly unsustainable as it might be, is ultimately more meaningful than something imagined.

There’s wisdom and insight to be garnered from all three of these movies, however, regardless of what stage of life you’re at or what you’ve gone through (or are currently going through). So, should you find yourself falling in love with “Before Sunrise” after your first viewing or even on a revisit, don’t hesitate to find out what comes after. 

The “Before” trilogy, consisting of “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset,” and “Before Midnight,” offers viewers a unique cinematic experience that evolves with its characters. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy not only star as Jesse and Céline, respectively, but also co-wrote the sequels alongside director Richard Linklater. This collaboration resulted in realistic and heartfelt storytelling that resonates on many levels, deeply influenced by the personal growth of the actors and the natural progression of their characters.

“Before Sunrise,” the first film released in 1995, introduces us to the young and idealistic Jesse and Céline. The pair meets serendipitously on a train and spends an unforgettable night wandering the streets of Vienna, sharing intimate thoughts and dreams. Viewers of the same age group often find themselves charmed by their conversations and spontaneity. However, those who are older might view the characters’ youthful idealism with a mix of nostalgia and irritation, recognizing the naiveté that comes with youth.

Nine years later, “Before Sunset” reunites Jesse and Céline in Paris. The once idealistic lovers are now weighed down by the complexities of life in their 30s—career pressures, past relationships, and the nagging “what ifs” of paths not taken. The film captures the intricacies of reconnecting with a lost love, portraying the characters’ more mature yet still very relatable struggles. For many, the film echoes the familiar feelings of midlife reevaluation and the lingering hope that it’s never too late to rekindle a significant connection.

“Before Midnight,” set another nine years after “Before Sunset,” finds Jesse and Céline navigating the trials of their 40s. This installment offers a raw and honest look at the realities of long-term relationships, parenthood, and the day-to-day effort required to maintain a partnership. It’s here that the trilogy delves into more profound themes of commitment, disappointment, and the acceptance of imperfection. For viewers, especially those in the same life stage, these themes resonate deeply and offer a candid reflection of life’s continuous evolution.

The trilogy’s strength lies in its ability to resonate across different stages of life, providing valuable insights and reflections at each point. Whether you’re an idealistic young adult, a 30-something reflecting on life choices, or in your 40s dealing with the day-to-day realities of a long-term relationship, the “Before” films offer something meaningful. The character arcs and dialogue are deeply human, reflecting our own experiences, growth, and undeniable flaws.

For those who find themselves enamored with “Before Sunrise,” the recommendation is clear: continue the journey with “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight.” Each film offers a new, rich layer to Jesse and Céline’s story, mirroring the inevitable changes we all face over time. Watching the trilogy in sequence allows viewers to grow alongside the characters, making each installment a deeply personal experience.

Regardless of where you are in your own life, the “Before” trilogy stands as a cinematic masterpiece that encourages introspection and a deeper understanding of human relationships. The collaborative efforts of Hawke, Delpy, and Linklater have resulted in a timeless exploration of love, life, and the bittersweet beauty of passing years.

So, should you find yourself captivated by “Before Sunrise,” don’t hesitate to discover the subsequent chapters of Jesse and Céline’s story.

Source: Various