Before Midnight Reviews
It seems that the "Before" films are the only Richard Linklater films that I enjoy. Linklater's penchant for dividing people into two distinct groups, rebels and sell-outs, wanes when he focuses on Jesse and Celine, and the characters have more depth, more intellectual spark, more remarkable conflicts than any of Linklater's other characters. Their conflicts are remarkably real, and the reflections on life and relationships more poignant than most of what we see in modern romances. The plot - and there is a plot to these films - builds organically, borne out of reasonable assertions by both characters; no one is demonized in these films even if there is conflict. The film's climax is touching, heartfelt, and moving.
The film's drawback is similar to its strengths. After all, we're so used to quick cuts, shallow multiplots, and scenes that get in, get out, and leave nothing fully explored that it takes a long period of adjustment before we can fully appreciated what Linklater does with these characters.
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have the type of chemistry that is rarely captured on film, but I suppose that acting these parts for almost twenty years has its advantages.
Overall, Before Midnight might be the strongest film of the "Before" trilogy, but it's hard to make that determination as each is precious in itself.
I dare you to watch this and not think at least once that you've had their very conversation, with exactly the same emotion, and the same guile.
My only problem with this was the desire to see the American speak at least a little French f'cryinoutloud.
Set 9 yeas after Before Sunset, and 18 years after their first encounter in Before Sunrise, this film picks up with Jesse and Celine near the end of a summer trip to Greece. They've been married for a number of years, and have twin daughters. When the film starts, Jesse is escorting his son (from a previous relationship) to the airport so he can fly back to the States to be with his mom. From there, the film follows the couple as they try to finally get some needed alone time with one another. What should be passionate instead turns into an intense examination of the couple's past present and future.
There are several moments of levity, but this is by and large the most dramatic and dark film of this series. It's also the most mature, but I think that is to be expected. I really enjoyed it, but, unlike a lot of people, I think this is either on par with part 2, if not just slightly below that. I loved how this is a series that takes relationships seriously, but I think this one is a bit of a tough watch because it covers the uncomfortable yet inevitable aspects of long term love, and does so with frightening realism.
These characters are fully realized, and the actors (like they did with the second film) co-wrote the script with director Linklater, giving us some detailed people who we and especially they have come to know and execute so well, that at times, it feels as if this is a documentary as opposed to fiction.
Even though I hated seeing these characters go through rough patches, the film ends on a pretty satisfactory note, though I feel like maybe the film was a tad too meandering at times. It certainly looks gorgeous though, and the acting is likewise brilliant, so most complaints I have are my own (for the most part).
Again, I applaud the film for being real, but it sometimes feels a bit too real, and a tad overly serious. Aside from that though, this, along with the two previous films, prove to be basically the best romance films of the past 20 years.
Great Film! Before Midnight is a different type of animal this time around. I didn't expect the team could top an already beautiful story but what they achieve in the newest installment is the most accurate and authentic portrayals of love since Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). The film is an absolute marvel, showcasing the very best dialogue and capturing the sheer essence of acting brilliance from stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Director Richard Linklater has also created the crowning work of his directorial career, showing incredible restraint and focus on two characters that still feel just as new and fresh as the day we met them. The film opens with a near fifteen minute take that gets its hook into you and never lets up. It's a cinematic sensation. The film is breathtakingly accurate and precise in capturing the love and relationship of couples, it will and should be studied by film schools and writers for years to come. Linklater bares his soul, frame after frame, showing confidence of his own idiosyncratic vision of this story and being as accessible to even the youngest of people. Go see this!
We meet Jesse and Celine nine years on in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on that train bound for Vienna.
Certainly to enjoy it, I had to put the other two films behind me. This is not the romantic Celine and Jesse of the previous two films. This is middle aged Celine and Jesse bogged down by parenthood and implied infidelity.
I liked it as it really rang true of a married couple who have perhaps been together too long and starting to grate. Cruel things are said and a lot of its quite harsh, but the ending still had some hope.
Good movie, but a depressing final instalment. Realistic yes, romantic, not particularly.
"Before Midnight" is the 3rd movie in the "Before" series("Before Sunset" and "Before Sunrise"). It follows the same formula that has made the other 2 just amazing movies. It's one day in the lives of Jesse(Ethan Hawke) and Celine(Julie Delpy). It picks up nine years after "Sunset" when they are on vacation in Greece. They are still together with twin daughters , and Jesse wants to move back to the U.S. to be closer to his son from a previous marriage. From there the movie is those two walking and talking trying to rekindle their romance, and ultimately things come to a head as the emotions that bubble under the surface rise up. There is a lot of arguing in this movie and at first you are like "nooo!", but by the end you realize that this is a very realistic look at their relationship. This is exactly how couples are, and exactly how these two would be spending their lives with each other. It's a fantastic movie than fans of the previous films will love. Hawke and Delpy have the best chemistry I've ever seen in a series of romantic type movies(although this isn't a very romantic movie). I love how each movie is separated by 9 years. It really helps this franchise stand apart and be something truly unique in a sea of movies that are exactly the same. I sincerely hope in 9 years we get a fourth movie, because I cannot wait to see where these two go next. Great third installment, of a great series of films. Check all three of them out if you haven't.
The setting of Greece is sumptuous, and the supporting characters are charming, especially sun-kissed, curly-haired Ariane Labed. I love how she holds and hides her face with her hands. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are chemistry personified. It's a wonder that they haven't actually been cohabiting partners, raising twin girls in France for the past ten years. Their half-hour conversations are funny and sad and meandering and layered. The opening sequence in the car and the walk to the hotel feel mundane yet natural and magnetic.
The climactic fight is sickening to watch (in a good way); it's nearly ALL RISE with a small oasis of reconciliation that I found identifiably realistic. At first I felt indignant at how crazy and irrational Celine was being, but then I realized that I usually take Jesse's logical-moral-high-ground stance in domestic squabbles, which I take as right, but does come off as cold and sanctimonious. The root of Celine's "craziness" and "irrationality" is revealed in a blissfully unapologetic admission of maternal anxiety, and while that theme isn't new, Celine sticks to her guns so extremely that it seems new - or at least new to the couple who have probably had versions of this fight many times before.
The time traveler ending is silly but sooo Jesse - an affect that the wizened dad probably forsook in these two decades since Vienna. There's no guarantee that they'll work it out, but OH that last line: "It must have been a great night we're about to have." SOOO GOOD!
In 1995, 23-year-olds Jessie (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) met on a train and spent a magical day strolling through Vienna and essentially falling in love. In 2004, Jessie was touring Paris on his book tour, having turned the events of that Vienna night into a successful novel. Celine meets him and the two pal around, reconnecting, with Celine revealing how much that night meant to her as well. Now, in 2013, Jessie and Celine are together, though unmarried, and have twin seven-year-old daughters, Ella and Nina. They've been vacationing in Greece for a month while Jessie works on a new novel. Over the course of one long day, the couple will try and stir old passions and question whether they still share the same commitments.
We're watching the evolution of two human beings, and your response will vary depending upon your own life's stopping point at the time of viewing. I must say, as a man now in his early thirties, that I enjoyed Sunrise and Sunset even more, finding greater thematic resonance to the characters, their anxieties, and the concern about faking your way through the "adult world." I imagine I will find these movies even more emotionally engaging as I continue to age and cross similar hurdles as the characters do. For fans of the series, we've already invested 20 years and four hours of screen time with these characters. There's more at stake when they fight. Watching the other movies beforehand, which I heartily recommend for multiple reasons, also provides stirring points of contrast, the romanticism of youth, the exuberance of promise. What Before Midnight does, and does so exceptionally, is take the romance of the earlier films and put it to the test. There's a lovely dinner scene with several couples, and you realize that each one is an analogue for Jessie and Celine: the teenagers, the middle-aged couple starting out, the older couple discussing the demise of their previous spouses. It's hard not to contrast the different stops and the different realities of love by the age.
Fair warning, Before Midnight is the least romantic of all three movies (I want a new movie every 9 years or so until the last one is essentially Amour). The first movie was them connecting. The second movie was about them reconnecting. The third movie establishes that they've been together for nine years and have a pair of twin daughters. The focus of Midnight is the struggle of maintaining a long-term relationship, something rarely given such thoughtful, perceptive, and compassionate depth on screen. We'd all rather watch lovebirds make goo-goo eyes at one another while we swoon appropriately, but Midnight's many battles, small and large, new and ongoing, explore a relationship reality that many should find alarmingly relatable. While the particulars may be different, you may be surprised at how similar these conflicts can be. Exclude stuff like vacationing in Greece, the cushy jobs, and look to the mounting difficulty to retain that spark, a reminder of why you fell in love long ago, with the responsibilities of parenting and work stretching you in different directions. Routine can quickly transform into malaise. Jessie has a teenage son from a previous relationship, and this pushes him into great remorse when the kid departs, making him feel inadequate as a parent, which leads him to suggest unlikely relocation scenarios. Celine, being something of a worst-case scenario creature, notes the moment, saying this is when couples start falling apart. She's worried he'll resent her for choosing against a cross-country move. However, as the movie progresses, you realize there are already enough long-simmering resentments between the couple. This is a hard movie to watch at times because Jessie and Celine both go for broke when they argue, and it can get ugly (he dismisses her feelings as "crazy"; she vents about his lack of virility). Ending on a moment of ambiguity, like the other films, it's perfectly reasonable to assume you just watched a two-hour breakup movie. Their problems don't really seem resolved but I guess we'll see in nine years, won't we? Hopefully the next one isn't called Before Divorce.
The hallmark of the series, its sparkling conversation, is alive and well, with added maturity and reflection. When you get dialogue this good, this fluidly natural, this engaging, I could listen to them talk for days. In my mini-review for Before Sunset I compared it to listening to birds sing. The shots can last upwards of ten minutes as the camera just slowly walks ahead of Hawke and Delpy as they converse. In the first film we got a foot-tour of Vienna, the second Paris, and now Greece. The sights, while nice, are incidental because I was consumed with the dialogue, which spills so effortlessly from Hawke and Delpy, relishing playing these characters once more. Their give-and-take is often breathless, with nary a pause between them, and it can become overpowering for the uninitiated (lots of old ladies, I have found, dislike this movie, though when asked, none have seen the previous two). But there's such added dramatic subtext now that we've jumped ahead in time. Rather than yearn for the characters to get together, now we're assembling what we can of their history together and the durable conflicts. The exposition never feels forced, and each new bit provides another prism to view the character actions. You're studying the characters, parsing their words, sizing up their honesty, and analyzing the various tests and dodges they dole out to one another. It's a more active experience than you might expect for watching people talk a lot.
Hawke (The Purge) and Delpy (2 Days in New York) are so exquisitely natural with these characters and together and never better. They know these people inside out, and they should because both are credited yet again as co-screenwriters with Linklater. I'd expect another Oscar nomination in their future, much like Before Sunset. Delpy has a wonderful faux youthful voice she uses for hilarious disdain to narrate Jessie's female fans. Both actors go a long way to flesh out their characters, provide degrees of new wisdom and worry while making us care about their problems. One character does not have the moral high ground, which makes their arguments all the more challenging to process. I don't want to make it sound like Before Midnight is some twenty-first century Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? There are innumerous moments of humor and grace and compassion, but the louder ringing of the raging conflicts can swallow them up. I also found it intriguing that this is the first movie in the series with nudity from our couple. Granted, it would seem somewhat forward if it happened in Sunrise and Sunset considering the narrow timeframes. As presented in Midnight, it loses erotic context and becomes another indicator of the struggles of maintaining passion.
I want to reiterate that I really hope that Linklater and his stars continue to bless us with a new film every decade, checking back on the lives of Jessie and Celine. The next one, if we continue the nine-year tradition, will deal with them turning fifty, which seems like a grand opportunity for some existential ennui. Also, Jessie son from a previous marriage will be roughly the same age Jessie was in 1995's Before Sunrise. That could provide another interesting perspective for dad. I'm just not ready to say goodbye to these characters yet. Much like the 7 Up documentary series, the movies provide a point to reflect on our own lives, how we've changed and grown, the setbacks and triumphs, surprises and sadness. Catching up with the series, I viewed the movies very differently than I did when I first watched them. The art remains the same but the frame changes; we change. The glorious aspect of Linklater's series is that we get to chart that change, checking back with old friends we've grown with. The movie's attention to character and the relatable problems of middle age and long-term relationships is rich, nuanced, and just about everything This is 40 should have been and wasn't. Before Midnight may lack the idealistic romanticism of previous entries but it substitutes a soulfulness to a series that has always been mature beyond its years. Approaching half a life lived, the characters still have plenty of life in them, plenty of dreams worth pursuing, and plenty more hurdles to go. It has been an ongoing privilege to get to spend time with these two. I pray this is not the end but just another stop on what ends up being one of cinema's definitive statements on love through the ages.
Nate's Grade: A
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their roles as Jessie and Celine respectively. The budding romance of these two characters in Before Sunrise was a wonderfully unique tribute to young love. Nine years later, their brief real time conversation in Before Sunset reflected their fears and insecurities as they matured into adulthood. Now, in Before Midnight, with a family (or families) of their own, Jessie and Celine are still unsure about each other or about their aspirations for life.
Before Midnight is by far the funniest of the three films, but it is also the least optimistic. As the decades have passed, Jessie and Celine have grown older, but they are not that different from the twenty year old versions of themselves who met on that train in Vienna. Nevertheless, this is a beautifully written, directed, and acted stroke of film brilliance that adds that much more depth to this wonderful franchise.