Movie #7: Before Midnight


It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years of real time since Jesse and Celine first charmed us with their magical night of romance in Before Sunrise. After reuniting ten years ago in Before Sunset, we now revisit the couple on vacation in Greece, after Jesse (played as always by Ethan Hawke) drops off his son (from his first marriage) at the airport and goes back with Celine (played as always by Julie Delpy) and their twin daughters to their friend’s villa. Despite the somewhat contrived circumstances that end up putting the two of them together for an extended conversation (though I may have missed what the film title is suggesting will happen at midnight), it’s the very natural dialogue that makes these films so enjoyable. Realistically, the way they speak and articulate their ideas is probably better than most of us do in real life (a script-writer somehow puts things in a way that seems closer to how we wish we could speak — writer-director Richard Linklater has done an amazing job as usual). Anyway, life seems to be weighing down on Celine a bit and she’s eager to pick a fight with Jesse. When the couple end up in a hotel in town (a gift from their friends), what was meant as a romantic evening turns harsh and stormy quite quickly. In contrast to their first night together in Vienna, strolling and talking almost randomly about themselves, this night both Celine and Jesse talk about thoughts and feelings that are very core and deeply felt. A lot of pent up frustrations and disappointments well up. I don’t want to sound like this movie was just one big argument, because it’s not, but it is very interesting to see how two decades have changed these two characters. What hasn’t changed is Hawke and Delpy’s great chemistry and easy rapport. These characters are so familiar to them that the dialogue just slides off their tongues. I’m guessing that they may also be somewhat similar to their own personalities so it may not be much of a stretch for them to become the characters even when each movie might be a decade apart. There is no way in my mind that anyone else could have fit these roles so well. If you enjoyed either of the first two films, this is a great continuation of Celine and Jesse’s story. I don’t know if they have any more movies left, but I guess we’ll need to wait another decade to find out. (4 out of 5)

7 down, 43 more to go.


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