Before Sunset (2004)

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Released 6-Jan-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-On The Set Of Before Sunset
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 76:59
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Richard Linklater
Studio
Distributor
Warner Independent
Warner Home Video
Starring Ethan Hawke
Julie Delpy
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Julie Delpy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Hebrew
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Sequels to films are usually made for one reason - money, or more correctly the ability to make more money. Usually the original film has to be a runaway success for the producers to get the green light to spend up big and make a sequel. If a film tanks at the box office, you don't expect to see a sequel. When a sequel is given the go-ahead it is rarely as good as the original and is quickly forgotten.

As a result there are very few sequels that are made purely for artistic or creative reasons and because of the dedication to the story by the director and cast. Before Sunset is one such film and comes an amazing nine years after the events of Before Sunrise.

In 1995, director Richard Linklater made a simple film about a young couple who meet on a train bound for Vienna and instantly strike up a friendship. Their meeting lasts just one night, but would have an impact on their lives far greater than either could have imagined. Before Sunrise starred Ethan Hawke as the American Jesse and Julie Delpy as the young French woman Celine. They wander the streets of Vienna for several hours before Jesse had to catch a flight back to America. As the night slowly progresses, it becomes obvious that Jesse and Celine share a bond far deeper than your normal one-night-stand style of encounter. They both feel it, but are unwilling to commit to anything concrete. As they part they agree to meet again - at the same spot in exactly six months to see if their feelings are the same. This is where the film ends.

It is now nine years later. That planned rendezvous never occurs and both have moved on with their lives. As this film opens, Jesse is in Paris as part of a book tour promoting his new novel, called This Time. It is a fictionalized account of that night he spent with Celine in Vienna. It has been a huge success in the States and he is now promoting it in Europe. On the last stop of his whirlwind tour, at a small bookstore in Paris, and with only hours before he is to step on a plane and head home, he again encounters Celine, who suddenly appears at the book store. She knew he would be there having seen an advertisement for his appearance a few months before.

The film follows the couple for the next hour and unfolds in real time. The couple decide to spend the last hour of Jesse's time in Paris together, and head for a small caf to catch up. The initial stages of their meeting are filled with those awkward moments of silly questions and long pauses as they don't really know what to say to each other. First things discussed include what they are doing now and did they head to Vienna on that night in December to meet again. As they slowly get more comfortable with each other they open up a whole lot more, even though some of the bigger topics are not yet about to be breached (their marriages, their happiness, and how they really felt about each other after that night). Time slowly slips away, until it becomes obvious that the couple are using every excuse possible to hold off the inevitable permanent goodbye. They reach a point where many secrets and regrets are openly discussed and it is obvious that both still hold extreme affection for each other, despite many changes in their lives. They are both far more cynical and world-weary than when they first met, and both bear the scars of less than perfect relationships in the past. This chance encounter has somehow rekindled some spirit in each of them, and it is obvious that neither want it to end.

Long takes and lots of dialogue from the two characters. That is about all this film consists of. If you hated the first film, don't even bother with this one - it is more of the same. If you loved the first, then this offering is obviously going to please you greatly. It is like visiting old friends and seeing them reconnect after many years apart. It is about as real a film as one can be without it being a documentary. Apparently both Hawke and Delpy played a major role in the writing of the script and it certainly shows as their characters are so believable with an almost off-the-cuff improvised feel to their acting.

The ending will leave an odd jarring sensation with many viewers, but it does lead to the obvious conclusion that this is not the last time we will see these characters again. Hopefully it won't be another nine years before the director allows us to go along for this lovely romantic journey.

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Transfer Quality

Video

While this film was obviously made with quite a small budget ($10 million, which is quite small by today's blockbuster standards), it still looks quite lovely and captures the beautiful colours of a late afternoon in Paris.

In the featurette included on the disc, the director mentions some of the challenges faced with filming a story that takes place in a little over an hour and virtually in real time. The colours needed to be the same throughout and capture that late afternoon consistently. This meant filming in a small window in the afternoon over 15 days. All up they have done a pretty good job and nothing looks out of place.

The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is also 16x9 enhanced. This is slightly modified from the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Overall sharpness is reasonable, with enough finely detailed images and only the barest glimpse of edge enhancement on a couple of scenes. There are no real problems with shadow detail and grain is also kept to an absolute minimum. There is no low level noise.

Colours are vivid and vibrant with the late afternoon sun casting many lovely shades of orange and yellow around. There are no problems to report with bleeding or oversaturation.

Compression artefacts are absent. No aliasing or any other film-to-video artefacts are present. Film artefacts are also absent which is always pleasing.

There are several subtitles available. The English for the Hearing Impaired stream are excellent, almost to the point of being perfect.

This is a single sided, single layer DVD, thus no layer change is present as a result.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There are two audio soundtracks on this disc. Both are Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks encoded at the bitrate of 384Kb/s. Languages available are English and German.

Considering there are only two main characters in this film, and all they pretty much do is talk for virtually the entire 76 minutes, there is not a whole heap of dynamic range and only a little front soundstage channel separation. All dialogue is anchored well and truly in the centre.

There is no score in this film. Amazing as that may sound, the music is limited to a couple of non-original pieces such as Variation 25 from Bach's Goldberg Variations and an original song played by Julie Delpy on her guitar in the closing scenes. Other than that it's all dialogue.

There is a little surround channel use. Street sounds as the couple walk around Paris are all that we hear. Likewise there is really not a whole lot for the subwoofer to do.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The lack of a quality set of extras for a film that has obviously been made for reasons other than to make money is disappointing. There are so many aspects of the production, such as how a studio was convinced to part with the cash to make it, how the actors and director collaborated to write the script, the possibilities of another film to make a trilogy - all of these questions need answers. But we don't get them here, with a trailer and very brief featurette the limit of the bonus material.

Main Menu Audio

Featurette-Behind The Scenes

To be honest, this is a nice little making-of that only runs for 9:50, but contains enough dialogue with the director, producer and actors to understand what they were hoping to achieve and how they met some of the challenges faced by filming in only 15 days. Worth a look since it does not contain any of the gaudy promotional-style, self-congratulatory bulldust at all.

Theatrical Trailer

The trailer runs for 2:15 and includes a little flashback to the original. Does not give away any story which is about all you can ask.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The only difference between the Region 1 disc and this one is a few bonus trailers (apparently forced ones at that) on the Region 1 and the exclusion of the German soundtrack the Region 4 disc contains. These differences are minor enough to declare it a draw.

Summary

Before Sunset is a delightful sequel to the highly underrated 1995 gem Before Sunrise. It is nine years after the events of the earlier film, and both Celine and Jesse have matured and grown wiser. They meet in Paris and share an hour or so reminiscing about old times and catching up with as many details of each other's lives as they can. They quickly realise they still share a common bond.

The video quality is excellent, without being startling, while the audio is very much centre channel anchored.

The extras are extremely limited which is probably the most disappointing aspect of the whole disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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Comments (Add)
Packaging says "Full frame" - REPLY POSTED
Non-remastered Sunrise in Double Set - REPLY POSTED
No additional languages either. -