Before Sunrise turns thirty, my theory about what happens

20 June 2024

It’s a favourite around here. Because don’t we love meeting someone we connect with at first sight? But Sunday 16 June 2024, marked the thirtieth anniversary (Facebook link) of the premiere of Before Sunrise, directed by Richard Linklater, and starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Another two films followed, with about nine years separating each of the three stories.

Obviously the thirty-year anniversary has intensified speculation about a fourth movie. But that remains up in the air, apparently. In 2018, speaking at the SXSW Film Festival, Hawke, who played Jesse, said he thought the film series “felt complete”. By earlier this year though, he seemed to have changed tack, and said there were “ideas” for another instalment.

Delpy — who portrayed Celine — however, has declined to reprise her role. But I think the scene where Celine and Jesse meet on the train, in Before Sunrise, maps out their life together, and points to what eventually happens. In their carriage, we see a young couple, a middle-aged couple who argue incessantly (ah, Before Midnight), and an elderly couple, sitting contentedly, together.

I think, if ever an instalment of Celine and Jesse in old age were made (would Before Twilight be an apt name?), that’s where the story might ultimately end. And there we have it, the conclusion of the Before film series, without the need to make any more (yes: parting is such sweet sorrow) titles that risk compromising the integrity of the earlier instalments.


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