Nine years after the two had a one-night fling in the 1995 film “Before Sunrise,” Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meet by happenstance in Paris in “Before Sunset.” Jesse is on a book tour promoting his first published novel, and Celine has become a successful ecologist. As he wraps up his book signing before heading to the airport for his flight back to the U.S., Jesse is shocked to see Celine in the audience. They begin catching up over a cup of coffee, then go for a long walk, and end up back in her small apartment. Once they get beyond the superficial, sugar-coated descriptions of their careers and personal lives, the two drop all pretenses and exchange true feelings about each other and past mistakes. Jesse is charmed by this whimsical, intelligent young woman, especially as she strums her guitar and sings a bittersweet ballad. Short on plot and long on dialog, this romantic comedy with a big dollop of melancholy will appeal primarily to young adults.
Unlike the typical R-rated love story, “Before Sunset” has no sex scenes; in fact, the two never touch, although the strong physical attraction between them is obvious. However, the dialog is peppered with strong obscenities, most spoken by Celine. She tells Jesse that she has never married, has had many lovers, and has no plans to marry her current partner. Such cavalier attitudes about casual sex, commitment and responsibility, as well as frequent crude and obscene language, make “Before Sunset” a film for discerning viewers to avoid.