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Richard Linklater
Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Writing Credits:
Richard Linklater, Kim Krizian

A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $99.95
Release Date: 2/28/2017
Available Only as Part of “Before Trilogy”

• “The Space Between” Interview
• “3X2” Conversation
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Before Sunrise: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 22, 2017)

Though it didn’t do much at the box office, 1993’s Dazed & Confused turned into a cult success and introduced director Richard Linklater to a mainstream audience. Rather than give moviegoers more of the same with another teen comedy, Linklater took a different path with his follow-up, 1995’s romantic drama Before Sunset.

On the train from Hungary to Austria, American tourist Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Celine (Julie Delpy), a French student. They immediately enjoy a connection, so Jesse asks Celine to spend the day with him in Vienna. She agrees, and we follow their interactions with the backdrop that Jesse must fly home the next day.

That’s not what you’d call much of a plot, so one shouldn’t go into Sunrise with the expectation of a story-driven film. Outside of its “relationship with an expiration date” concept, we don’t find much onto which we can hang our hat beyond the character elements.

Because of this, the lead actors become especially important, and both Delpy and Hawke do well in their parts. Whatever attachment we make to Jesse and Celine occurs largely due to their charms, as they manage to bring a fair amount of honesty and heart to the roles.

Unfortunately, they can’t quite make Sunrise a particularly interesting experience. A story like this runs into a mix of potential problems. On one hand, it needs to be dreamy and romantic enough to involve the viewer, and since 95 percent of the running time consists of dialogue, the participants need to offer comments that maintain our attention.

On the other hand, those trends/requirements can dilute realism. Face it: conversations on dates aren’t usually terribly compelling for observers, so a reality-based chat would probably become pretty boring in a hurry.

This leaves Sunrise in a difficult spot where it wants to seem realistic but it also needs to entertain and enchant us. I don’t think it does other especially well, as the interactions between Celine and Jesse fail to do much to stimulate.

Not that Sunrise actually turns into a bore – it does manage to keep the viewer with it to at least a moderate degree. It just never turns into anything especially fascinating, and the characters become a large reason why, as they remain fairly uncompelling.

In truth, they offer clichés. Celine is the dreamy, artsy European while Jesse presents the more hard-edged, semi-cynical American. This overstates their character trends to a degree - Sunrise doesn’t make them cardboard cutouts – but they still fall into those traps more than I’d like.

The movie expands them somewhat but I can’t say I ever develop much of an attachment to Celine and/or Jesse. In this kind of story, I should fall for them as they fall for each other, and I should feel some heartbreak at the seemingly hopeless nature of their future.

None of that happens, and I’m not entirely sure why. I could complain about the level of pseudo-intellectual discourse between Jesse and Celine, but I won’t because that feels like one of the film’s more honest elements.

As a guy pushing 50, I can scoff at the notions posited here, but I’m not so old that I can’t remember when I would’ve babbled in the same way during a date. As young adults, we all think we’re smarter and more perceptive than we are – heck, I probably got stuck in that phase decades ago – so the conversations strike me as fairly realistic.

This doesn’t make them particularly interesting, though, and the need to listen to 100 minutes of these observations makes Sunrise a chore much of the time. There’s just not much about the characters’ interactions that draws us to them.

Of course, the scenery helps. Sunrise acts as a nice travelogue for Vienna and makes me want to hop a plane there tomorrow. With so much natural charm on display, the city allows the film to go down more easily – the same story set in Muncie wouldn’t work as well.

I do like the concept of Sunrise, and every once in a while, it threatens to tug at whatever romantic heartstrings I possess. Unfortunately, too much of the film becomes a bit of a bore.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Before Sunrise appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image reflected its low budget but usually looked fine.

Sharpness took a hit once nighttime came along, as low-light shots tended toward slightly indistinct material. Nonetheless, most of the movie showed pretty positive delineation.

I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. The movie lacked any print flaws, so we got a clean presentation.

Colors worked well. The movie went with a fairly natural palette that leaned a little toward the golden side of things, and these hues came out with warmth. Blacks were reasonably dark, but as noted, shadows could be somewhat dense. Despite some lackluster moments, the film usually offered pleasing visuals.

A movie that revolves around a very long date doesn’t require an action-packed soundtrack, so don’t expect fireworks from the film’s DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix. Dialogue became dominant, as speech played the most important role.

Music popped up sporadically and offered fairly nice stereo spread, while effects played a background role. Scenes on a train delivered decent movement, and the city sequences brought us reasonable involvement and ambience. Nothing stood out as memorable, though, as dialogue remained the focus.

Audio quality seemed adequate. Though speech could be a little sibilant, lines were intelligible and reasonably concise. As mentioned, music and effects didn’t do much, but those elements appeared accurate and showed acceptable range. All of this added up to a soundtrack that lacked pizzazz but did what it needed to do.

A handful of extras appear on the Blu-ray, and these start with the 43-minute, 39-second The Space In Between. This offers a 2016 conversation among writer/director Richard Linklater and actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, though Delpy doesn’t join the others until about 20 minutes into the piece.

Moderated by critic Kent Jones, they discuss the movie’s origins and development, cast, characters and performances, shooting in Austria, collaborations and the extension of Sunrise into its sequels. The inclusion of the two spinoffs means one shouldn’t watch “Between” until you’ve viewed all three films. “Between” manages to create a good overview of the series and gives us a nice array of notes related to the movies.

3X2 goes for 39 minutes, 48 seconds and includes a chat between film scholars Dave Johnson and Rob Stone. They look at themes and connections among the three movies. Again, that means you should postpone a screening of “3X2” until you see the whole trilogy. Johnson and Stone offer a fine examination of the subject matter.

Finally, we get a Behind the Scenes featurette. It runs five minutes, 57 seconds and includes circa 1995 comments from Linklater, Hawke, Delpy and producer Anne Walker-McBay. “Scenes” offers a general look at the film and exists for promotional reasons.

The package also includes a 32-page booklet. It presents photos, credits, and an essay from film scholar Dennis Lim. This text adds value to the set.

As a tale of a burgeoning relationship with an unfortunate expiration date, Before Sunrise boasts sporadic charisma. However, too much of it seems slow and self-indulgent, as the characters lack the necessary charm to allow us to care about their interactions or fate. The Blu-ray offers generally positive picture as well as adequate audio and a few informative supplements. Sunrise lacks enough dramatic momentum to become the winning romance it wants to be.

Note that the Criterion Blu-ray for Before Sunrise can be found solely as part of the three-disc “Before Trilogy”. This also includes 2004’s Before Sunset and 2013’s Before Midnight.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
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