Relationship Analysis: Before Trilogy

WARNING! Spoilers Alert. Read at your own risk.

Before trilogy are movies by Richard Linklater.


The first movie Before Sunrise started about a couple who accidentally met on a train from Budapest to Paris. Jesse invited Celine to stroll around in Vienna on a whim before his flight to US the next day. The movie ended with the two deciding not to exchange contact information but to meet again after six months.

The second movie Before Sunset is when Jesse is already a successful author of his novel about his first encounter with Celine in Paris. He was on a book tour and Paris was his last destination. Celine attended the last day and after the presentation of his books, he and Celine caught up with what’s happening in their lives. The ending of the movie showed Jesse still spending time with Celine and he was about to miss his flight back to US.

The third movie Before Midnight showed first Jesse’s relationship with his son from his first ex-wife. Jesse had been living with Celine for 9 years and they have twin daughters. The movie revolved around the couple struggling with the consequences of their actions years ago, balancing love life, parenthood, and career at the same time. The movie ended with Jesse and Celine reaching a new understanding of each other and with a hope that their relationship might work.

How did the characters meet?

Celine and Jesse met while riding a train to Paris. They struck up a conversation after a couple who’s been fighting on the train left their seats. They just started talking to each other. Eventually, since Jesse enjoyed talking Celine he invited her to walk around Vienna and she agreed.

How the characters in the movie are attracted to each other?

On the train, when they started talking, none of them was shy or held back what they were thinking. They trusted each other easily and said whatever came to their mind.

They both made an impression to each other, they have their own ideas, they have opposing beliefs as well. Despite their differences, they felt togetherness, acceptance and respect in terms of their opinions, and beliefs.

They were physically attracted to each other because of their attitudes which had developed into mental and emotional attraction when they shared personal and vulnerable details about themselves.

Celine made an impression with Jesse had seen her as outspoken, smart, passionate, independent, beautiful, she makes him laugh, creative, philosophical and deep. Despite trying to be practical, rational, and pessimistic, she wanted to believe in magic and astrology.

Jesse made an impression with Celine when he started talking about his ideas and dreams. She also found him to be cute, sweet, optimistic, funny, and philosophical too.

– Is it *true love or *lust at first sight? 

When Jesse saw Celine, it showed in the way he looked at her that he was drawn to her and he wanted to talk to her. Celine smiled at him when she sat on the other side of the train. They were drawn to each other, then they started talking and their personalities clicked. They were sincere and open that led their attraction to deepen.

Even Jesse was about to go down the train, they admitted outright that they enjoyed each other’s company and that they have a connection.

Some of the best scenes in the movie were: when they got a CD and listened to it in the booth and then the moment on the prata or the ferris wheel. Being alone together created tension that fired up also love and lust between them.

Then when they talked about their situation in a restaurant holding hands and they said goodbye. I saw their emotions and I was deeply affected too.

On the second movie, at first it was weird and awkward, but they got over it. Next thing we notice, they were chatting as if nine years never happened.

It was obvious that all those times they were separated, they never forgot each other they were both miserable and they wished to find the other. It showed that they missed each other, and they still want to be together.

  • Was there chemistry between the couple?

The chemistry between Jesse and Celine were automatic and pretty obvious the moment they started talking.

*Intellectual chemistry happened when they shared their opinions on certain topics. They have a great conversation and they visited different topics under the sun. It showed that they’re both well-read, curious, and smart for their own good. They match each other’s wits.

On the second movie, at first it was weird and awkward, but they touched base with the basics: how they were doing, what they’ve been doing, places they’ve been, past experiences, and then slowly and eventually went to the serious topic, Jesse’s marriage, Celine’s failed relationships, and how they’ve lost their romanticism and innocence the night they’ve met.

*Emotional chemistry happened when they started sharing personal ideas and and intimate information. Jesse said I wish I met you earlier, I want to keep talking to you and Celine said me too.

On the second movie, after talking about their feelings, they’ve both admitted how they still wanted to be with each other in their own words.

*Romantic chemistry happened once they started talking about love after an hour or so in the movie. They expressed how they both wanted to be loved and have a caring relationship.

They’ve expressed their feelings for each other while they were pretending to call their friends.

Celine expressed she fell in love with Jesse when he shared his story as a little boy of seeing his grandmother’s ghost and having those beautiful dreams.

Jesse shared that he felt euphoric meeting Celine and thinks of her as a smart, super passionate, and beautiful angel.

On the second movie, they’ve expressed that they never met anyone with a great connection the way did nine years ago.

The chemistry between them was intact, it was deeper, and richer now that they’ve matured.

*Creative chemistry happened during their conversations. Their personalities matched and produced a synergistic effect.

On the second movie, that effect is still there, somehow they’ve become more rational and practical, but once they’ve met again, it’s as if that their energy and enthusiasm woke up from its deep sleep.

On the third movie, the fight they had in the hotel was a result of pent up frustrations and concerns that were never brought out. I can even compare to friends of mine who’s been together longer than Celine and Jesse. Just like them, those couple also have strong and independent personalities. The fight was natural and real for each character and it shows how they passionate they with their point of views.

– What is the man’s *lovemap? Is it a healthy lovemap or not?

Jesse’s lovemap was influenced by his parents. Seeing how his parents were he gained an early perspective about relationships. When he was 23, his practical and he’s aware how people have romantic projections that is not based on reality.

Although he wants a caring and loving relationship, he also said he preferred to do big things.

He likes to think he wasn’t a romantic guy, but he was being romantic to Celine when they were on the Ferris wheel.

Nine years later, he got married. He believed who he married didn’t matter, what mattered most is he was being a man when he took his responsibility of getting his girlfriend pregnant. He did love her, but the chemistry between their relationship died down. I believe he realized how her wife could never make him happy the way Celine did. They didn’t have a connection.

His wife is a good teacher, and mom, but he doesn’t love her as he used to.

Due to his unhappy marriage, somehow he was still holding on to his memories with Celine. The only person who could make him happy when he’s not back with Celine was his son, Henry.

Another nine years later, he and Celine are together and they have twins Mina and Ella. He’s happier and still realistic, but his suffering with the consequences of getting together with Celine and divorcing his wife. He felt guilty and sad that he wasn’t around while his son was growing up.

As far as my observation goes, I believe Jesse has a healthy lovemap. He may have those romantic projections, but at least, he lives his life in the reality.

No matter how neurotic, pessimistic, and such an angry activist Celine is, he loves her for who she is.

He doesn’t live in the fairy tale world, and he accepted it.

– What is the woman’s lovemap? Is it a healthy lovemap or not?

According to Celine her parents have competitive, aggressive personality, and they revolt against everything such as the government, their conservative catholic backgrounds and they traveled to different places. I have to believe that this fight in the past kept her parents together. Whatever they were fighting for, her parents have the same interests at heart and goals. It was the passion that kept the couple together and the relationship going.

They love Celine and they gave her freedom to do what she wants. She was raised to believe that there’s an enemy she has to fight with, which is why Celine also grew up with a notion to be strong and independent.

While Celine has a grandmother where she thought has a simple and uncomplicated love life, but the truth was her grandmother spent her whole life dreaming of the man she was always in love with. But her grandmother didn’t do anything about her situation, she just accepted her fate.

When Celine was 23, her lovemap was influenced by two models: Her parents and her grandmother.

Her parents’ relationship gave her love, security, everything she needs, and raised her to be open-minded, to have a career where she will practically earn something.

There wasn’t enough information about the grandmother’s love life, but I’m incline to believe that she’s so in love with a man she hardly knows. Celine was disappointed, because she expected her grandmother to do something about her situation.

Despite having practical, rational and intellectual qualities, she has a naivete and innocence in her. She has romantic projections and it meant a lot to her to find someone to love and be loved.

Nine years later, she shared that she had several failed relationships because ever since Jesse happened in her life, she stopped making efforts in her any new relationships, so they all failed. They broke up and all those exes got married.

She was more practical and realistic. I can completely relate to Celine and I am certain that she never moved on completely with Jesse. Just like Celine, I’ve become so detached, numb with feelings, and bitter (wait, except bitterness) when it comes to love and relationships. All those innocence, naivete, and romanticism, she poured all of it to Jesse. (I did it too with D.)

So what’s left of her was a woman who gets into relationships where she have her one foot in the door and one foot out, so it wouldn’t hurt as much. (That I can’t relate cause I haven’t fallen for someone since D, so who knows.)

Celine doesn’t believe in reincarnation, but she wants to believe in magic. She also believed in Astrology. Due to several literatures, studies, and research, I also believed in Astrology, just the profiles or zodiac signs, but I ignore the day-to-day readings.

Another nine years later, when she’s already with Jesse and they have twins, Celine forgot to love herself and instead poured all her love to Jesse, the twins, and her job, to the point where she stopped painting, playing her guitar, and writing songs. They were happy, but she was suffering because she felt like she doesn’t even have time for herself anymore, which also led her to question everything and to get mad of Jesse’s guilt over his son, how she was acting toward his son and his failed marriage, and being pressured to move to Chicago.

In their relationship, Jesse was always gone or on a book tour, it lessened their chances of communication which led to big problems and understandings.

At first observation, I thought Celine had a healthier lovemap than Jesse, because of her perspective, and intellect. She has an unhealthy lovemap, considering that what she have with Jesse is great, but she’s still looking for something more. She hadn’t realized right away, and problems emerged between them because Jesse wasn’t always there, and Celine hadn’t voiced out the problem. It only came out when they finally got the time to be alone again in the hotel.

– Does the relationship contribute to the growth of each person in the relationship? 

In Jesse and Celine’s relationship, I know for sure that their similarities and differences had led each to mature as a person.

They are both smart, well-read, outspoken people who are striving to survive in their career, be happy with their relationship, and they remind and balance each other to think of their decisions thoroughly.

– Do the personalities balance each other, complete each other, or makes them a good team? 

Their personalities are in tune with each other. Jesse’s optimistic and realistic views had big tendency to clash with Celine, but it makes her see the good things in life.

Celine’s feedback with his ideas, and decisions, helps him grow as a person, and it also brings Jesse back on the ground when he makes giant leaps.

Their personalities make a good team, Jesse is a thinker, and Celine is a doer. They could inspire and support each other to do great things.

– Are they capable of maintaining a long-lasting relationship? 

Celine and Jesse can maintain a long-lasting relationship if they exclude any unrealistic expectations of each other, if they keep being transparent, if they kept communicating, and if they make the effort to spend quality time together.

– Why the relationship will work or last longer? 

The relationship will last because they like and enjoy each other’s company. If they could keep each other feel safe, respected, and not alone, that’s also going to help in great lengths.

Here’s a couple who have known each other for a long time and they are used to each other’s personality, differences, and eccentricities. There are things that might make them hate or irritate each other, but at the end of the day, they will make up and fix their problems.

This couple transcended relationships in real life. A couple who liked each other a lot and who could relate to each other pertaining to the different aspects of their lives but might also hate each other for certain reasons.

It has a high probability of working and to last longer due to many similarities that would always magnetize them to be together. No matter how big and serious their arguments are, I know they could fix it for both of their sakes and for their children.

The foundation of their relationship is not just chemistry, but they also have compatible personalities, friendship, trust, love, intimacy, commitment, and respecting each other.

– Why the relationship won’t work or last longer? 

This relationship won’t work or last if they stop communicating, considering each other’s situation, and if they stop using their head and just let their lives be ruled of anger and bitterness.

It won’t work if Jesse will always be too busy for Celine.

It won’t work if Celine will stop voicing out what her real problem, just like she did in the third movie.

There problems got bigger, because they weren’t communicating as open as they did before in the first and second movie.

– What needs to be improved to make the relationship work and last longer?

If this is a real relationship, they need more communication, more quality time to revive the chemistry in their relationship, more time to be vulnerable and intimate.

– How lovemap plays in the couples’ lives?

Intellectual people are very rational and logical. I don’t think I am very intellectual, but when I saw this first movie in 2004 and saw the second movie in 2009, I wasn’t convinced that they fell in love with just knowing each other for just one day.

Now watching the movie, while writing this, I’ve noticed that they had spent a lot of time looking at each other. Even there was a research that proved couples fall in love with each other who have just met if they spent a lot of time looking at each other. Seeing the movie now, and knowing that research, I’m now convinced that they fell in love with this movie.

I’m also convinced because I know a couple like them who are just like them when they first met. According to them, when they found each other, it’s just like finding the other piece of a puzzle.

This relationship is ruled  by chemistry, compatibility, friendship, trust, love, respect, intimacy,  and commitment in that order.

This couple is not even like those couples in copped out movies, where the characters are best friends to indicate they’ve known each other for years and they belong together. In these movies, you could actually see and experience the couple meeting, growing up together, learning new things, committing mistakes, and fixing it as adults. This trilogy is not a fairy tale, they’re realistic and practical.

Kudos to the actors who were passionate in playing the characters Celine and Jesse. They brought the characters and the story to life.

*Thusly marked words are defined on this LINK.

2 thoughts on “Relationship Analysis: Before Trilogy

  1. Really interesting analysis. I’ve watched these three films – a friend recommended the first two and I thought they were sweet and original. I waited with bated breath for the third recently, but was disappointed. The relationship had turned so sour and bitter I could barely watch. It was a terribly uncomfortable film. I ended up skimming the last hour and didn’t really get to grips with the redemption at the end.


    • Maybe it’s because the third one was too realistic. We’ve seen them as a real couple handling all the problems in the world at its worst state.

      Thank you. We’ve seen their positive qualities together in a good light, but in the third movie, we’ve seen their negative qualities as the focus of the movie.

      As of the three, I think I liked the third most, despite the sourness and bitterness in the relationship.

      For me, it’s more natural and real to see the couple like this rather seeing them making googly eyes at each other all the time.


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