Director Richard Linklater revisits distant lovebirds Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) in Greece, nine years after being reacquainted in Before Sunset (2004) and almost two decades since they first met on the train in Before Sunrise (1995).... More
After spending the "best summer ever" with him in Greece, Jesse sees his son off back to his mother in the U.S. But as he returns to Celine and their two twin daughters, the global sense of separation begins to weight down on him. Treated to a luxurious seaside hotel by their Greek friends, Jesse and Celine head down for a night of romance while their kids are looked after. But what was intended as an evening of passion – akin to Jesse’s novels – turns into an uncomfortable confrontation as their fears and insecurities begin to surface…Hide
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BY Liam Maguren Flicks Writer
It’s doubtful that anyone cares more for longitudinal love birds Jesse and Celine than Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, for this third entry in the Before series continues to treat them with devoted dignity, even when life threatens to render their devotion less dignified.... More
As the film opens, Jesse and Celine catch us up to speed with the nine years we missed, shooting the delightful shit for almost the entire first act. It serves as reassurance that their conversational chemistry has not deteriorated, largely due to the continued quality of their superbly-written/ad-libbed exchanges.
However, while the autobiographical ‘honeymoon’ stories of Sunrise and Sunset acted as creative fuel for Jesse’s two best-selling novels, the concepts for his next book reflect murkiness in the pair’s relationship, one that grows salient during an innocent brunch session. This segues into the film’s golden scene: a roundtable discussion of love that presents brilliantly-argued ideals of romance, spanning and varying across generations.
When the two are finally alone, the worrying undertones that dose the dense script become overt in confrontational fashion, and it all strikes true – perhaps too true when the arguments diverge into bickering over who cooks dinner and picks up the dirty socks. It’s uncomfortable to watch, but that’s Linklater’s intent as he exposes their fears, regrets and potential resentments with surgical precision. As one of the most thought-provoking movies I’ve seen all year, Before Midnight takes its traditional romantic tale into more insightful territories, with romance being the film's subject more than its genre.Hide
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BY alicebrash nobody
This film felt really refreshing to watch, why don't other movies have dialogue that feels so easy and natural? It is a credit to the actors, who after creating their characters almost 20 years ago, have grown with them and allowed them to develop into real people that it is impossible not to identify with on some level.
I thought about this movie a lot after seeing it and truly hope that Richard Linklater finds the inspiration to make another one, in say, another 20 years.
BY Mark-Roulston superstar
Given that the last film, 2004's Before Sunset, left us with no clear idea of the direction Jesse and Celine's lives would take, it's difficult to talk about story specifics in Midnight without giving away some of its most enjoyable surprises. Little has changed in the structure of the film however, and we're once again asked to simply observe the meandering conversations of the duo in an evocative location (this time a sleepy Grecian village), and experience drama through dialogue. And oh boy, once the dialogue kicks into high gear, it's like a freight train pointed right at your heart.
Again, trying not to give too much away, Jesse and Celine have grown more in the last nine years than they did in the previous nine, and for that reason Midnight might be the most effective of Linklater's trilogy. The sanctity of this apparently perfect pairing, as set up 18 years ago, feels like it's being undermined from every corner in the film's slow-burn opening act, with any romantic idealism eroded by the cold rationality of youth, the contented acceptance of middle-aged Gen-X, and the omnipresence of mortality and decay.
Jesse and Celine, while still grappling with self-involvement, have much more to consider than themselves this time around. After a slightly more expansive opening, the second half of the film narrows to the couple only, and more than ever the locations say as much as the words. They mourn the passage of their youth while strolling amongst crumbling ruins, gleefully discuss the joys of their present lives in quaint, hedge rimmed alleys, and noisily debate their problems in a stagnant, characterless hotel room.
It's this last location where Midnight's most effective section takes place. Having in a sense grown alongside these characters, always remembering the beautiful spontaneity of that night in Vienna 18 years ago, to see Jesse and Celine tear themselves apart in such a banal setting is a painful, but absolutely riveting, experience. Every biting comment is heavy with genuine stakes and watching it play out feels almost too voyeuristic to handle, but there's such rawness to the performances that you can't look away. It's certainly not as hopeful as the last two films, but the unvarnished honesty is a change that Linklater needed to make.
Whether or not we'll find ourselves encountering Jesse and Celine again in another nine years is anyone's guess, and I suspect that even Linklater, Hawke and Delpy wouldn't have an answer. Before Midnight unsurprisingly leaves much unanswered but doesn't feel unfinished, and only another nine years of growth from the filmmakers (and their audience) will determine if there's more to say. Moving away from the fairy-tale beginnings and closer to the challenges of a real relationship, the series itself has matured into a complex, many flavoured stew. Just like adult life is supposed to be.Hide
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