Before Sunset review

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The inspired/insipid one-night romance of Before Sunrise did not need a sequel. Richard Linklater's talkie brief encounter between intriguing/irritating young dreamers Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) was a love-it-or-hate-it affair, its tantalising dénouement leaving cynics and romantics to conjure their own contrasting conclusions.

How shocking, then, that the follow-up mitigates the mystery yet proves to be touching, true and, somehow, necessary. It's like running into old friends. Nine years after the original events, Jesse's in Paris promoting his autobiographical novel when Celine shows up for another intense conversation. The spark between them is still there, but as they spar over politics, the environment and idealism, so emerge deeper desires, their youthful beauty now bruised.

Written by the stars and director, Before Sunset is charming, perceptive and raw (Hawke's dissection of marriage is quietly devastating given his own circumstances); it's Sunrise on repeat, but grown-up and suffused with a beaten-up optimism. Only one word for it: bittersweet.

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