Yesterday was the big Austin Film Society (AFS)-sponsored, Austin premiere of Rick Linklater’s new film, Before Sunset, the sequel to his 1995 indie favorite Before Sunrise. AFS did it up proper, by having a screening of the original film at 4:30 p.m., a brief intermission/party, and then the screening of the new film at 8:00 p.m. It was a complete Sunrise to Sunset experience.
It was great to watch Before Sunrise again, especially on the big screen. I hadn’t seen the movie since it was first released, and it holds up rather well and gets better with age (not the film’s, but yours). At the party in-between, everyone was excited to see the new film. Those who caught it at SXSW in March continually hyped it up to the “virgins,” promising they were in for a really nice treat.
At the party, I got a chance to hang with Mike Jones and his wife Maya, who are expecting their first child in the next month. Mike had just gotten back from an L.A. trip of meetings (as all screenwriters not living in Hollywood must do), and it was great for them to come. It was also a very family-friendly event, as the party gathered just as many parents and aunts and uncles of the stars and the crew, as it did filmmakers and party-hoppers. This happens when most of your crew (editor Sandra Adair, DP Lee Daniel, and producer Ann Walker-McBay, among them) live in Austin.
Before stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply held court in a corner of the bar, as family and friends wished them well. Hawke’s Dead Poets Society co-star and friend, Josh Charles came to town with him and they hung out most of the time. Rick’s amazing assistant, Sara Johnson, was there and as usual, she was incredibly nice. Immensely talented Linklater regulars like actor Nicky Katt and animator Tommy Pallotta were also in attendance. There were also the usual film groupies, hoping to get their own VIP time with Hawke or Delpy. Good luck with that.
So, what about Before Sunset? The audience loved it. From the nonchalant opening to the amazing and soon-to-be-legendary ending, the audience was held in suspense about these two characters and what their future holds. About the ending, without spoiling anything, all I have to say is… do not go to the concession stand or restroom when you see this movie. Be prepared to witness every split second, you’ll thank me for that advice. It will only make this film more complete for you. Delpy, in particular, gives a stunning performance that will surely put her right back on the map after this film is released over the next few weeks.
As biased as I am for Austin filmmakers, I do believe that Warner Independent Pictures has a hit on its hands for its first release. Before Sunset is just such a great film that attracts the attention and admiration of so many kinds of people. You don’t even really have to have seen the first one to get it all, and be moved by it all. But, if you haven’t seen the first film, what’s stopping you?