Tay’s review published on Letterboxd:
this version of Jesse and Celine have glimpses of their younger selves in them, like a distorted reflection in a calm body of water. it's in the way they hoped that love would be different for them and them alone, like they were the two chosen ones, special and untouchable and invincible. no amount of cynicism or skepticism could challenge, let alone break, their bond in Paris. they found each other and for a moment they were understood. but it's precisely in that moment of understanding, of reciprocated affection and desire to be wanted & needed & loved, that their individual affair becomes universal. because it never was about their love being singular. this has always been about life, which is just chance and chaos. meeting on a train—chance and chaos. not meeting or meeting again, in Paris or in Vienna, in six months or nine years, older or younger, the same as before or grown entirely new—chance and chaos.
to think they were looking for each other passively and thinking of each other passionately for almost a decade would be tragedy if their devotion wasn't the one thing ringing most similar to their younger selves. maybe they've created a narrative out of nothing—one so grand that other ordinary lives must pay some emotional price so that they can have a chance at the extraordinary—but don't all fairy tales start with little more than hope?
there is magic in the attempt of understanding. Before Sunset is what comes after, the subsequently beautiful and painful and fleeting exertion of having being understood. you must give back. you must listen, too, to the terrible dreams and nightmares lost on one night, to the glances spared on New York streets, thinking maybe, maybe, maybe, to the loves that are not enough, to the light reflecting on the water, turning everything golden and permanent, just for a moment. at some point after magic comes the real world. here, the real world only begins at the end, and when it starts, it's not so easy as treading water, but it feels like coming up on shore after a long years' worth of sitting idle under water, holding your breath for something more. and then it comes, and whether the sun is just rising or setting, only time will tell.