Before Sunset (2004)

Brief Intro

“Before Sunset” (2004), directed by Richard Linklater, is a sequel to “Before Sunrise” (1995). This romantic drama reunites Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) nine years after their first encounter. Set in Paris, the film follows their afternoon together, filled with deep conversations and lingering chemistry. The movie’s real-time narrative, rich dialogue, and exploration of love and missed opportunities make it a timeless piece.

Literary Devices Used in Before Sunset


Movie SceneExample
Jesse compares his past memories to a faded photograph.“Memories are wonderful things if you don’t have to deal with the past.”
Céline describes her feelings as a roller coaster.“My life has been like a constant roller coaster, up and down.”


Movie SceneExample
The Seine River represents the flow of time and their journey.Their conversation by the river, reflecting on their lives.
The bookstore symbolizes Jesse’s literary success and nostalgia.Jesse’s book signing event.


Movie SceneExample
Céline references Nina Simone’s song.“You are going to miss that plane.”
Jesse mentions his book’s plot, alluding to his and Céline’s first meeting.Discussion about his novel.


Movie SceneExample
Jesse speaks about his “happy” marriage.“I’m in a good relationship.”
Céline claims she has moved on but clearly hasn’t.“I don’t think about you anymore.”


Movie SceneExample
Jesse mentions missing his plane early in the film.“I have to catch a flight.”
Céline talks about not living in the moment.“We never really live in the present.”


Movie SceneExample
Recollections of their night in Vienna.Conversations about their past.
Céline’s memories of their phone calls.“Remember our talks on the phone?”


Movie SceneExample
Jesse and Céline’s deep conversations reveal their emotions.Throughout the entire film.
Céline’s monologue about environmental activism.Céline speaking passionately about her work.


Movie SceneExample
Descriptions of Paris in their conversations.“The city looks so beautiful at sunset.”
Jesse’s vivid description of his book’s setting.“Imagine a place where…”


Movie SceneExample
Their different life paths since Vienna.Jesse’s life in the US vs. Céline’s in Paris.
Jesse’s public success vs. private dissatisfaction.Discussion about his book’s success.


Movie SceneExample
Time and its passing is a recurring motif.Mentioning time in various dialogues.
Missed opportunities motif.Reflecting on what could have been.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices


IronyJesse often portrays his life as perfect, yet his words reveal dissatisfaction.
DialogueHis deep conversations expose his inner conflict and longing.


FlashbackCéline’s recollections of the past highlight her unresolved feelings.
SymbolismHer environmental work symbolizes her desire to make a difference, contrasting with her personal life.

Character Dynamics The dynamic between Jesse and Céline is driven by unresolved emotions and shared history. Their dialogue-heavy interactions, filled with subtext and irony, reveal their deeper connection and the impact of their past on their present. Their relationship highlights themes of love, regret, and the passage of time, illustrating how they shape each other’s lives even after years apart.

Thematic Analysis

Regret and Missed Opportunities

ForeshadowingEarly mentions of missed flights hint at missed chances in life.
JuxtapositionTheir contrasting lives underscore what might have been.

Time and Memory

SymbolismThe Seine River symbolizes the passage of time and memories.
FlashbackRecollections of their past highlight the theme of memory.

Love and Connection

DialogueDeep conversations reveal their lingering connection.
MotifRecurrent discussions about love and relationships.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismLightingSoft, natural lighting during their walk by the Seine enhances the symbolic flow of time.
IronySoundThe contrasting upbeat music during Jesse’s book signing with his ironic remarks about happiness.
DialogueCamera MovementLong takes and steady shots focus on their conversations, emphasizing their emotional exchanges.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene 1: Bookstore Reunion

  • YouTube Link
  • Breakdown: The bookstore setting symbolizes Jesse’s success and nostalgia. Their initial awkwardness, conveyed through stilted dialogue and hesitant body language, reveals their unresolved feelings.

Scene 2: Seine River Walk

  • YouTube Link
  • Breakdown: The walk by the Seine is filled with metaphorical language and foreshadowing. The river symbolizes time’s flow, and their deepening conversation reflects their emotional journey.

Scene 3: Céline’s Apartment

  • YouTube Link
  • Breakdown: In Céline’s apartment, the intimate setting and close-up shots heighten the tension and reveal their true feelings. The use of Nina Simone’s song alludes to their connection and the theme of time.


Interactive Multiple Choice Quiz

  1. What literary device is primarily used in Jesse’s description of his past?
  2. Which theme is highlighted through the motif of missed opportunities?
    • A) Love and Connection
    • B) Time and Memory
    • C) Regret and Missed Opportunities
    • D) Success and Failure
  3. How does the film’s visual design complement its literary devices?
    • A) Through the use of bright, vibrant colors
    • B) By focusing on natural lighting and long takes
    • C) With quick cuts and dynamic camera movement
    • D) Using dark and moody lighting