abdel’s review published on Letterboxd:
We started with the pure bliss—the ecstasy and mystique of falling in love. Following that was the reasoning and self-reflection. Why didn't the story end there, that morning in Vienna, if it wasn't meant for it to end? Finally came the reality. The world as it is; love in its 100% raw form, often painted over by our expectations.
I wasn't expecting The Before Trilogy to pull me into its world the way it did so elegantly; the "romance" genre of film has almost always left a cheesy taste in my mouth, with exceptions like (500) Days of Summer, In the Mood for Love, and a few others. The philosophy that surrounds love, craving to be explored in all its intricacy, intrigues me to my core—that said, Richard Linklater makes no exception in my eyes, creating a graceful yet shattering symphony of affinity through the years, a portrait of the changing world seen through the lens of love.
Acknowledging the trilogy without regard for Hawke and Delpy’s performances are just criminal, the subtleties through their body language alone: the hesitation of contact with each other at first, eyes gazing back and forth at each other with nervousness, both lessening with time and maturity with the comfort between them increasing as the films progress. The day after seeing Before Sunrise while sitting in between classes, I decided to reread the train conversation from the beginning of the screenplay, and I realized how well their performances flawlessly bounced from the writing, translating perfectly on screen. The intimacy of the prolonged scenes of conversation were as natural as I can imagine, at times leaving me with a wide grin, floored at how real it feels.
My relationship with love has been a difficult one to realize and bring to words. I often come at a crossway with the modern definition of true, romantic love, which often leads me down a rabbit hole of existential dread and anxiety concerning my future (considering how easy it is for people to fall out of love). But if anything, the trilogy, although melancholic in its last third, brought me some sense of comfort. We are all thrown into the world, confused as to what our purpose is and what we have to give. The passion we have towards a significant other may not entirely satisfy our uncertainty, yet still gives everyone, even those who have nothing to give, a significance in the vast labyrinth we live in. After all, we are just passing through. Might as well do it together, right?