Celine and Jesse Forever

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Three Film Package

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January 3 – 9

Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy is one of the cornerstones of contemporary American cinema: the story of a single couple told through the lens of three life-changing days, each nine years apart; a record of time’s gradual effect on the faces and bodies of two remarkable actors; a narrative of love gained, lost, and painfully re-found that paralleled the ups and downs of an entire generation; a challenging reflection on who we are, what we value, and who we love, and how that endures, or fails to endure, over time.

Before Sunrise starts with a chance traincar meeting between a cocky young American (Ethan Hawke) and a brilliant young Parisian (Julie Delpy). What begins as a flirtation becomes a one-night adventure, then a romance, then something like love. The next two films revisit Jesse and Celine in Paris and Greece, respectively, telling the story of the couple’s shared life in pivotal, snapshot-like flashes. Each installment is packed with unforgettable moments: an exchange of glances inside a cramped record booth, an impromptu morning-after Auden recitation, a seduction by way of Nina Simone, a dinner-party roundtable on the subject of love, a take-no-prisoners hotel-room squabble. Taken as a whole, Linklater’s epic-in-miniature is a rare work that seems to age with its viewers, revealing new truths, comforts and warnings when watched at successive stages of life.

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In This Series

Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise

Richard Linklater | 1995 | 105 mins

After meeting on a train, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) convinces Celine (Julie Delpy) to disembark in Vienna, where they spent a night walking, talking, and falling desperately, unexpectedly in love.

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Before Sunset

Before Sunset

Richard Linklater | 2004 | 80 mins

Picking up in Paris nine years after Sunrise’s open-ended finale, the question of whether Jesse and Celine reunited is quickly eclipsed by ones of commitment, fidelity, responsibility, and time.

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Before Midnight

Before Midnight

Richard Linklater | 2013 | 109 mins

Before Midnight finds Jesse and Celine at the tail end of a summer in Greece and is a frank look at the pitfalls of long-term romantic commitment that brings the series satisfyingly full circle.

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Waking Life

Waking Life

Richard Linklater | 2001 | 99 mins

Jesse and Celine make a brief cameo in Linklater’s visually stunning, mind-bending, wildly discursive exercise in film-as-dream, the first feature film to be entirely rotoscoped.

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