101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

Perhaps no single line perfectly distills the iridescence of Before Sunset, the second film in a trilogy chronicling a romance across decades, but there’s a lot to unpack in this remark: “Memories are wonderful things if you don’t have to deal with the past.” Dealing with the past is part of what cowriter-director Richard Linklater, stars and cowriters Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, and cowriter Kim Krizan do throughout Before Sunset, which reconnects Celine and Jesse nine years after Before Sunrise. Electrified by curiosity about what might have been, the onetime lovers scrutinize life choices past, present, and future. Designed to flow in real time and powered by torrents of pensive, playful, prickly dialogue, Before Sunset does more than merge the imaginations of its writers—the script uses the specificity of one couple’s journey to investigate the larger theme of how youthful romanticism changes when seen through adult eyes.