The third and last (?) in the Richard Linklater directed and Julie Delpy/Ethan Hawke starring series, Before Midnight again features more dialogue and banter between characters than plot. But, after three movies, we are used to that and we know these characters so well, we pretty much know what they are going to say and do. Not that this is a good or bad thing…but it’s comfortable. Like an old pair of slippers, these films have charmed us, endeared us, and romanced us. A little refresher on the series: Before Sunrise (1995) is set in Vienna and has Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) meeting on a train and taking a risk by spending the whole day with each other. They talked and walked and laughed and talked and walked and laughed some more. As they fell in love, so did we with them.
Then, onto 2004’s Before Sunset, which again has Jesse and Celine at romantic crossroads, this time in Paris and Jesse is married to someone else. They talk and walk and laugh again. Now, we have Before Midnight. Same two characters, but this time in Greece and involved with each other in a committed relationship (though, not married) with twin daughters. Yes, I know you are dying of suspense…but they do some talking and walking and laughing and fighting. Fighting? That is different. Yes, in the previous films, they occasionally bickered. But, in this film, it’s pretty much half talking and half fighting. But, they are in a relationship now. Talking and laughing and walking around cannot be without its problems, right? I mean they have kids and responsibilities and ex-wives and children with these ex-wives, etc., etc., etc. Things cannot be as bliss-filled and romantic as they were that night in Vienna almost 20 years ago, right? Well, Jesse and Celine apparently both (especially Celine) want things to be as easy and carefree as they were back in the beginning of their relationship. Sadly, life gets in the way and adds conflicts. Much of this film is sorting out those conflicts and issues. At times, I felt it was a little tedious, like eavesdropping on a couple having an intense argument. But, that’s what all three of these movies have been about, right? Eavesdropping. Eavesdropping on intimate moments. Eavesdropping on the first stages of love and romances. Eavesdropping on private conversations. So, if you didn’t like Before Sunrise, chances are, you never tried Before Sunset and will not see Before Midnight. But, if these movies, their personal, character and dialogue-driven movies are your purview, then Before Midnight will not disappoint.
Before Midnight: 2013, R, 109 minutes, directed by Richard Linklater, starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award.
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