Revisiting Richard Linklater's Iconic ‘Before’ Trilogy

Revisiting Richard Linklater's Iconic ‘Before’ Trilogy

The Before trilogy, which consists of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight, which were all directed by Richard Linklater and starred Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, narrates a couple's complicated and changing relationship over the period of over two decades.

As we near the 30-year-anniversary of Before Sunrise, let’s look back and admire this outstanding work of filmmaking.

Before Sunrise (1995)

In Before Sunrise, Jesse, an American college student touring Europe, and Celine, a French student heading back to Paris from Budapest, randomly cross paths on a train, start up a discussion, and learn that they have similar interests in the world and a zest for living.

Jesse makes the spontaneous suggestion that they get off the train at Vienna and spend the night touring the city together.

They agree, and they spend the evening talking about everything from their favorite movies to their innermost fears and ambitions as they meander around the streets.

Before Sunset (2004)

Nine years have passed after the events of Before Sunrise when the tale begins up in Before Sunset.

Jesse, who is now a well-known novelist, is in Paris as part of his book tour and performs a reading in a bookshop.

He is shocked to find Celine in the audience after the incident. They reunite and spend the day catching up on one other's life as they stroll around Paris's streets.

They discuss how they never followed through on their vow to get together six months after their initial meeting.

They also learn that Celine is in a committed relationship while Jesse has a wife and kid, which is another unexpected turn in their life.

However, their affection for one another have not dissipated, and they soon discover that they are drawn to one another once more.

Before Midnight (2013)

Nine more years pass, and Jesse and Celine are now in their early forties when Before Midnight takes place.

With their twin kids at their sides, they are on holiday in Greece, but over the years, things have grown tense between them.

They talk about their irritation and unhappiness as they stroll around the charming alleys of a tiny Greek hamlet.

Jesse is grappling with emotions of hatred towards Celine for holding him back in his work as she is considering accepting a position in Paris, which would require her to move away from him and the daughters.

Intimacy and Immediacy

The trilogy's ability to convey the essence of love and relationships in all their beauty and complexity is one of its most outstanding features.

The movies stand out for their dialogue-heavy, realistic aesthetic and lengthy, uninterrupted takes that allow the actors to converse and interact in a way that appears genuine and unscripted.

This gives the tale an intimacy and immediacy that draws the spectator in and gives us the impression that we are traveling on the characters' trip with them.

The human experience

The complexity and richness of the characters themselves are other highlights of the trilogy.

With their flaws, peculiarities, and conflicts, Jesse and Celine are fully realized human beings who give off the impression of being genuine individuals.

They have varied and complex talks about a wide range of topics, including politics, pop culture, love, and grief, and from the nature of memory and time to the difficulties of juggling a relationship and a profession.


The "Before" series has received appreciation from both fans and critics for its emotional openness and genuineness.

It has received much praise for being one of the best love stories in contemporary film and for its exceptional ability to depict the intricacies and inconsistencies of adult relationships.

Additionally, the movies have received positive reviews from critics, with each picture earning multiple nominations for awards


The trilogy has drawn criticism from some viewers for lacking diversity and representation.

The movies do not examine the viewpoints of persons from diverse backgrounds or identities; instead, they focus on the experiences of two middle-class, white, cisgender protagonists.

Although this critique is legitimate, it does not lessen the trilogy's overall influence or accomplishment.

The "Before" trilogy is a remarkable achievement in modern cinema, combining insightful storytelling, nuanced characterizations, and naturalistic dialogue to create a powerful and emotionally resonant saga of love and relationships.

Its impact on fans and critics alike has been immense, cementing its status as a modern classic of the romantic genre.


What is the premise of the 'Before' Trilogy?

The 'Before' Trilogy follows Jesse and Celine, two strangers who meet on a train and spend a night wandering around Vienna in 'Before Sunrise'. The films then continue their story, depicting the ups and downs of their relationship as they reunite in Paris in 'Before Sunset' and in Greece in 'Before Midnight'.

Do I need to watch the 'Before' Trilogy in order?

It is recommended that you watch the 'Before' Trilogy in order, as the films follow a chronological timeline and build upon each other. However, each film can also be enjoyed as a standalone story.

Are there any plans for additional films in the 'Before' series?

Richard Linklater has stated that he has no plans to make any more films in the 'Before' series, but has not ruled out the possibility of revisiting Jesse and Celine in the future.

What are some of Richard Linklater's notable films?

Some of Richard Linklater's notable films include 'Slacker' (1991), 'Dazed and Confused' (1993), 'Before Sunrise' (1995), 'School of Rock' (2003), and 'Boyhood' (2014).

What is Richard Linklater's filmmaking style?

Richard Linklater's filmmaking style is known for its naturalistic approach and its focus on character development. He often uses long takes, improvisation, and conversations to create a sense of realism in his films.