By Erin Free

“The French actor, Louis Jouvet, said, ‘You have to put a little life in your art, and a little art in your life,’” actress, Julie Delpy, told FilmInk in 2004. “We put in real things from our own lives and experiences to give it truth. But at the same time, there are many things that are just invented for the films.” When writer/director, Richard Linklater, tapped actors, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, to play the lead roles in his 1995 drama, Before Sunrise, he kicked off what would become an unlikely arthouse franchise. Scripted by Linklater and Kim Krazan, this simple, wonderfully evocative film introduced us to American student, Jesse, and his European dream girl, Celine, who spend one glorious evening of conversation and budding love in Vienna. Youthful, optimistic, relatable, and real, they became instantly iconic emblems of young love.

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise
Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise

Celine and Jesse, however, became even more fascinating when Linklater invited Hawke and Delpy into the screenwriting process for the film’s 2004 sequel, Before Sunset, which sees the couple reunited nine years after their initial meeting. Older, wiser, and more battered around the edges by what life has thrown at them, Celine and Jesse are even more real in the sequel. “I would want to write a scene, and Ethan a scene, and Rick a scene, and then we’d send them to each other,” Delpy told FilmInk in 2004. “The whole idea was to figure out what would happen after nine years in real time,” added Hawke.

But by the time of 2013’s third emotionally bruising installment, Before Midnight, the reality of Celine and Jesse has become almost too crushing, with this once romantically idealised couple now dealing with the cracks that have started to appear in their relationship after years of marriage. “We felt that it would’ve been silly to make a third one about flirting,” Ethan Hawke told FilmInk upon the film’s release. “The first two films deal with so much fantasy, and projection about who somebody might be, that it seemed begging for a film about who they really are.” Added Richard Linklater: “We couldn’t do the same thing again – brief interactions. That worked for the first two films, but in this one, we chose to take on the notion of the real world.” The result might have been painful, but it only served to make Celine and Jesse even more indelible…


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