for your next date

An A-to-Z Guide to Celine and Jesse’s Conversations in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset

Photo: Warner Independent Pictures

What do passionate people talk about when they walk around Vienna, then Paris, on two exceptionally romantic dates? So many things! Here’s your A-to-Z guide to the topics covered in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, including quotes from Celine and Jesse that you can steal for your next big date. Don’t say we never did anything for your love life.

A – Aging

“I like getting older … it feels more immediate, like I can appreciate things more.” — Jesse

B – Breakups

“You know what’s the worst thing about somebody breaking up with you? Is when you remember how little you thought about the people you broke up with, and you realize that that is how little they’re thinking about you.” — Jesse

C – Childhood

“I remember childhood as a magical time.” — Jesse

D – Death

“I think I’m afraid of death 24 hours a day … I’m so scared of those few seconds of consciousness before you’re gonna die.” — Celine

E – Environment

“The world is a mess right now … we’re moving all our industry to developing nations where we can get cheap labor free of any environmental laws … 5 million people die every year from preventable water disease. So how is the world getting any better?” — Celine

F – Feminism

“I have this awful, paranoid thought that feminism was mostly invented by men so they could, like, fool around. You know: Women! Free your mind, free your body, sleep with me!” — Celine

G – God

“I believe if there’s any kind of God, it wouldn’t be in any of us — not you or me — but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.” — Celine

H – (Not so) Horny French men

“French men, they drive me nuts … I guess they’re not as —what’s the word? They’re not as horny.” — Celine

I – Inevitable downfall of every relationship

“Let’s say we’re together all the time: You’d start to hate a lot of my mannerisms, the way every time that we would have people over I’d be insecure and I’d get a little too drunk. Or the way I tell the same stupid pseudo-intellectual story again and again.” — Jesse

J – Journaling

“Did you ever keep a journal when you were a kid? It’s funny, I read one of mine from ‘83 the other day, and what really surprised me is I was dealing with life the same way I am now. I was much more naive and hopeful, but the core and the way I was feeling things was exactly the same.” — Celine

K – Kissing

“Do you know what I want? I want to be kissed.” — Celine

L –

“Love is a complex issue. Yes, I have told somebody that I loved them before, and I have meant it. But was it a totally unselfish, giving love? Was it a beautiful thing? Not really.” — Jesse

M – Memory

“Memory’s a wonderful thing if you don’t have to deal with the past.” — Celine

N – Nina Simone, in concert

“Did you ever see Nina Simone* in concert? … I saw her twice in concert. She was so great … she was so funny in concert.” — Celine

*Choose someone you’ve seen in concert if you steal this quote.

O – Obsession

“Why do you become obsessed with people you don’t really like that much, you know what I mean?” — Celine

P – Parents

“Everybody’s parents fucked them up. Rich kids’ parents gave them too much, poor kids’ not enough.” — Jesse

Q – Quakers

“Do you know anything about the Quakers? The Quaker religion? I went to this Quaker wedding once, and it was fantastic. What they do is, the couple comes in and they kneel down in front of the whole congregation and they just stare at each other and nobody says a word unless they feel that God moves them to speak or say something. And then after an hour or so of just staring at each other, they’re married.” — Jesse

R – Reincarnation

“Do you believe in reincarnation? … Even if they don’t believe in it in some specific way, you know, people have some kind of notion of an eternal soul, right? “Jesse

S – Sex

“Fucking?” — Celine

T – Technology

“You know what drives me crazy? All these people talking about how great technology is and how it saves all this time. But what good is saved time if nobody uses it? It just turns into more busy work, right? You never hear somebody say, ‘Well, with the time I’ve saved by using my Word Processor,* I’m gonna go to a Zen monastery and hang out.” — Jesse

*Update the tech reference if you steal this quote.

U – Uncultured Americans

“I’m really relieved to hear you’re not one of those Freedom Fries kind of Americans.” — Celine

V – Very sexless marriages

“I’ve had sex less than ten times in the last four years.” — Jesse

W – Women versus men

“It’s like a skipping record: Every couple’s been having this conversation for forever.” — Jesse


“Men go out with me, we break up, and then they get married. And then they call me up and they thank me … I want to kill them.” — Celine

Y – Youth

“I guess when you’re young you you just believe there’s be many people with whom you connect … Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times.” — Celine

Z – Zodiac signs, mockingly

“You’re a Scorpio, I’m a Sag, we get along.” — Celine

Other topics covered:
Atheism, Buddhism, birth dances, cemeteries, Celine’s cat, desire, dreams, ghosts, grandmas, grandma’s ghost, idealism, kids, magic, Miss July, 1978, monks who offer blow jobs, monkeys that have a lot of sex, optimism, palm readers, romance, therapists, time

Before Sunrise/Sunset: A-to-Z Conversation Guide