From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Before Sunrise is a 1995 is a drama film directed by Richard Linklater and written by Linklater and Kim Krizan. Surprisingly, the books the protagonists are reading when they meet on the train are atypical for a seemingly romantic film. Celine is reading a Georges Bataille anthology: Madame Edwarda, The Dead Man, Story of the Eye. Jesse has actor Klaus Kinski’s autobiography, All I Need Is Love.
The movie follows Jesse, a young American on his way to Vienna to catch a flight back home after a traumatic break-up, and Celine, a young French woman traveling back to Paris to attend school at the Sorbonne after having visited her grandmother in Budapest. They meet on a train and after talking for a while, Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train with him at Vienna so they can spend more time together.
The plot is minimal, aside from walking and talking, not much happens. The two characters share their perspectives on life and love. Jesse is a romantic disguised as a cynic, and Celine seemingly a romantic though with some doubts. Taking place over the course of one night, their limited time together is always on their minds, and leads to their revealing more about themselves than they normally would, since both believe they will never see one another again.
In 2004 a sequel titled Before Sunset was released from the same director and cast, and reprising the original concept.
The movie starts with Jesse meeting Celine on a train to Paris. They strike a conversation in the train. Jesse is going to Vienna whereas Celine is on her way to Paris after visiting her grandmother.
When they reach Vienna, Jesse asks Celine to accompany him in Vienna. Jesse convinces Celine by saying that after 10 or 20 years down the road, she might not be happy with her marriage and might wonder how it would have been if she had picked another guy, and this is a chance to realize that he himself is not that different from the rest. In his words, he is "the same boring unmotivated guy." Jesse has to catch a flight early in the morning and doesn't have enough money to rent a room for the night, so they decide to roam around in Vienna. They exchange some peculiar observations on life and love in general.
Sometime through the night they click romantically and end up sleeping together in the park. The movie ends the next day at the train station, where the two agree to meet together at the same place in six months.
The plot of the movie was conceived by the director Richard Linklater, who shared a similar experience with a woman named Amy when they spent a whole night talking as they roamed the streets of Philadelphia.