Brief Encounter: Richard Linklater’s ‘Before’ Films Stand the Test of Time

Those who know me personally (or have read my literary blog, starts & stops.) might also know of my particularly soft spot for Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy.  (And when I say soft, I mean like…ooey-gooey-caramel-filled-Stroopwafel-melting-atop-your-espresso soft.)  (Yeah…that soft.) (Can you tell what I’ve just been snacking on before typing this?) (This is a lot of parenthetical asides, huh?) (Okay, back to the post, now.)  I first came across Before Sunrise (1995), the series’ first installment, when it aired on the Lifetime network back in high school, around the time its sequel Before Sunset (2004) was released.  I was about sixteen or seventeen at the time, and though I’d only caught the middle portion of it, something about the conversation between the boyishly handsome American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and the ethereal Frenchwoman Celine (Julie Delpy) that captured my teenage imagination.  

I never actually got to finish that first viewing, and it wasn’t until roughly two years later, at what was then the Times Square Virgin Megastore (R.I.P., sob sob!), that I would purchase my own copy and finally see the whole thing through.  Quickly after that initial purchase followed Sunset in its wake.  By then, I was a freshman in college–and as one on the cusp of her early twenties, heavily steeped in culture and armed with a personal “yen” for travel, the idea of having a philosophical, intellectually-charged conversation with someone whilst traipsing around a European city over the course of an evening was, at the time, just about the highest form of romance there was.  

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