We continue our journey into the lives of Jesse and Celine in the third
installment of Richard Linklater’s Before “trilogy.” The film takes place nine
years after the Before Sunset
conclusion. Jesse continues his success as a novelist while Celine is just
picking up her career in Paris. After dropping his son Hank at the airport to
Chicago, Jesse feels distressed that he’s not a part of his son’s life anymore.
From the villa to the luxury hotel in Greece they have a series of dialogues
about love, relationships, and long-term commitment as they encounter the
struggles of keeping the intimacy alive in their relationship.
While it attempts to be edgy and deep, the film left much to be desired
in its definition of love. The inherit problems in Jesse and Celine’s
relationship seems to all stem from selfish desires. They’re not married and
much of their relationship ethics are based on an “open relationship.” Their
love is built on a connection between two human beings in love; that is, as
long as there is some benefit to gain from one another. Basically, the film
focuses on the “rebirth of love.” In that, nothing really is resolved, but
problems are meant to simply disappear.
However, there are some redeeming qualities to the film that are
especially compelling. Linklater focuses not so much on quick changing scenes
into dramatic climaxes but engages us by allowing us to watch time slowly
unfolding. This avoids the normal powers of cinema and gives us feeling of
actually walking, eating, and talking with the characters; interacting with
them as if you were a part of their lives.
In one scene in particular, we see Celine and Jesse sitting down by the sea
in Greece watching the sun slowly set below the horizon. During the last
moments before the sun sets Celine says in Jesse’s arms, “Still there, still
there, still there, gone.” Here Celine says something that perhaps encapsulates
the entire movie and provides a profound implication for what relationships
represent for her and Jesse. The idea here is that love, though lingers, will
eventually disappear just like the sunset and be reborn the next day. However,
real relationships require work and mutual self-sacrifice that is not based on
narrow commitments but on a self-giving love for the good of the other person.