Celine and Jesse. It started with “Before Sunrise,” continued with the beautiful “Before Sunset,” and capped off with the mature “Before Midnight.” Richard Linklater’s trilogy of romance in European cities has built a loyal indie following for more than two decades now.
“Before Sunset” was a masterful examination of love, family life, and conversation. Never has a cinematic audience wanted an on-screen character to cheat on his wife more than when Jesse shows up at Celine’s apartment in the climactic scene. Celine was indelibly played by Julie Delpy and Jesse was superbly portrayed by Ethan Hawke. Linklater and his two actors wrote the screenplay, much of it clearly improvised, from the artists’ own experiences and points of views. This organic style brought a real sense of authenticity to the films. These movies asked us questions about love that many studio movies always try to duck. Is our view of love as a society conflicted and far-reaching? Can we really love someone eternally or, if you will, ’til death do us part? How much can we compromise until we end up losing a sense of ourselves and our own independence?
Linklater has always been a curiosity seeker who always asks more than he answers, in fact he knows the fun part is pondering, overthinking rather than finding conclusive answers and the way “Before Midnight” ends, with a couple trying to reconcile after an earth-shattering hotel room fight, makes you wonder what can possibly happen next. We all hoped it wouldn’t be last we saw of Celine and Jesse, but, knowing Linklater, maybe he’d rather leave us, yes, pondering and arguing about their fates.
However, Ethan Hawke seems to be still thinking about Celine and Jesse, as he revealed in a recent interview with The Independent.
“I would have said after the second there was definitely going to be a third one but I do feel complete in that the first one starts with the older couple arguing on the train and by the end of the third one we’ve become that couple. If it were to continue it would change shape. It would be something else. Julie, Rick and I might work together again, we might revisit those characters but it’ll need a new burst of energy,” the actor said. “I don’t know what it is. We’re not allowed to think about it until five years after – that’s how we’ve done it every time. ‘Waking Life‘ was five years after ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Before Midnight’ we met five years after ‘Before Sunset.’ So we’re gonna meet five years after the release of ‘Before Midnight,’ talk about it and see where we wind up.”
Hawke further elaborated on the importance of Jesse in his own life and the way he has built the layers on this character over the last 20+ years.
“I’ve worked on Jesse at nine-year intervals [since 1995],” Hawke said. “I started working on that character when I was 25 and the last time when I was 41, so it’s been with me and I’ve gotten to put a lot of my own life into those movies.”
So it seems like it’s not out of the question and that these characters seem to be continuously evolving in the actor’s psyche, which, I’m sure, is the case for Delpy and Linklater as well. The three films have each been separated by nine years, which means the next one would be released in 2022, when Hawke and Delpy would be well into their 50s. Knowing Linklater, and his obsession with the passage of time, we think a fourth installment would likely happen if all the creatives are inspired and ready to go.