I had already seen the movie, but it was a few years ago on DVD. Seeing it again, I was impressed with Richard Linkater's ability to make a compelling story about two people walking around, having overly intellectualized and philosophical conversations, and falling in love. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy created characters that are slightly pretentious and idealistic, yet still very likable (which also makes them believable), and there are appropriate breaks from them to show the Vienna's characters.
It really is a beautiful movie.1
Seeing this was a great set-up for the sequel, Before Sunset which was one of the SIFF Anniversary presentations. No one involved with the film was able to attend, which was disappointing. Still, the movie was very good. I'd be interested in people's opinions about whether it stands on its own. I feel like you really need the first part to have an investment in what happens to the characters when they reunite, but found myself more interested in their conversations in this one. The city played less of a role, and the story unfolded in almost "real time." I thought it would've been cool if their scene from Waking Life would have been included.
It was strange to see the actors age nine years in two hours, but they've aged well. Julie Delpy is gorgeous and it turns out that she has a great voice too (she sings two songs in the movie, and wasn't in Seattle because she's on tour with her band).
After the show, we went to the gala. It was at the Moore, which isn't really the greatest setting. But with wine, little foods, and a band, it was an o.k. end to the day.
(between movies, I went home for a nap and found out that Reagan died. long overdue. reading some of the statements from various politicians about him is interesting.)
(1) The Stranger calls it "one of the greatest romances ever filmed" which might not be complete hyperbole. [stranger]