It never descends into bitterness, but Before Sunset is laced with grown up feelings of regret. For reasons beyond their control, Celine and Jesse never did meet each other on their specially appointed day, and that disappointment has colored their lives in some very tangible ways since then. Indeed, once the initial magic of finding one another again has had a chance to subside, Jesse and Celine begin to break down with their frustrations, getting angry at each other, though their real complaint seems to be with fate. Before Sunset is no turgid meditation on lost youth and thwarted love, but Linklater’s leads are perhaps more breakable this time around (“I feel like if someone were to touch me, I would dissolve into molecules,” Jesse tells Celine), and they’re more emotionally edgy. It’s an approach that feels fiercely honest, and it keeps the film on the safe side of sentimentality while still recapturing the spark that animated the first film: that of possibility. This is a film that suggests that even when time is short, it could still be time enough. It allows us to revisit a pair of old friends, and it leaves us, again, with threads of their story to dream on.
A fascinating review. I never realised that. Maybe it is true, the bitterness bit. Fascinating.