Finally caught it all in a marathon on a SQ flight. And Bravo! This has become one of my favourite trilogy and love story, or even Story, ever.
Before Sunrise: The start of this unique romantic love story. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke has an undeniable chemistry that is both believable and palpable as their characters grow to understand each other better. The story really does make one believe in Romance (with a capital R) and The One, however cynics may find the plot and narrative to be too idealistic and unrealistic. But all stories are based on a seed of realism, and this movie triumphs because of the script and the interaction between Delpy and Hawke. The movie is definitely talky and there are moments where it stalled, however luckily those are far in between. The verbal connections between these two are amazing and their sparring are riveting. The script main themes are Romance and Love, but it touches on topics as broad as reincarnation, feminism, gender politics, fate, birth dance, very anthropological. Ultimately, Linklater's direction is the weakest because this movie can be enjoyed without paying too much attention to it visually. Delpy and Hawke has chemistry and their acting were good (more so of Delpy) but the story and script and words really overwhelm; nonetheless, kudos to their verbal acting, all the timely pauses, hems and haws, slight mutterings and ramblings. If the time was briefly tracked then that would have added a dose of realism and elevate this movie further.
Before Sunset: A shorter interlude that catches up with Jesse and Celine 9 years later. There's a bit of role reversal here from how they were initially, but it rings true. Hawke and Delpy still have chemistry (though time has definitely been kinder to Delpy) but interestingly enough the initial scene had them being all awkward and it did feel genuine as if the actors are also just catching up after a long break. Then the chemistry kicked back in. The words here are less Romantic and less wistfully young, but it does ring more true which thus infused this Second Act of their story with a tinge more sadness underneath that subtle Romance. A sad, bittersweet love story about missing The One and Settling, lost opportunities, wrong Times. Linklater's direction has gotten stronger and less gimmicky and helped to focus the main line of the story. I love the ending of this...as ambiguous as the first, and as teasing...I liked how the screenplay for this is by both Hawke and Delpy (and Linklater), the adlibbing worked for this.