Before Midnight: Iconic Romance Saga Returns Nine Years Later
Charlotte PriorEthan Hawke...
Do you believe in love at-first-sight? Or are you more of a pragmatist who prefers to keep your head cool and out of the clouds? Whichever side of the fence you choose to sit on, Richard Linklater’s masterpiece will have you hooked.
It’s been eighteen years since the world was introduced to two twenty-something, would-be lovers on a train in Vienna in Before Sunrise, and nine years since their chance encounter in Paris in Before Sunset. Now, another nine years on, comes Before Midnight.
As with all of the ‘Before’ movies, Before Midnight plays out over the course of one day. Jesse (Hawke), an American novelist and idealist, shares his life with Celine (Delpy); a headstrong, outspoken French activist who wonders whether her best days are behind her. The couple have been together for almost ten years and have chosen to spend their family holiday with their 7 year old twin daughters and Jesse’s thirteen year old son, Hank (Davey-Fitzpatrick), in the picturesque Greece.
When it comes time to say goodbye to Hank at the airport – who is returning home to the States – Jesse realises he’s missing out on his son’s life and begins debating whether to move his whole family across the pond, in order to be closer to his boy. However, this doesn’t sit well with Celine who is battling with her own decision of whether or not to accept a big job offer.
A series of long and seemingly complex conversations proceed and we watch the couple indulge in various extended debates and disputes – alone and with friends – covering everything from religion and politics, to sex and their own personal fears.
Before Midnight’s truth and honest portrayal of a couple learning to grow old together is perhaps the film’s strongest quality. Linklater has this amazing ability to connect with viewers; not just through a story and its message, but in forming the characters that carry it through. Hawke and Delpy are truly devoted to their roles and have wonderfully aged into their characters. Witty, clever, inquisitive and, most of all, believable, their on-screen chemistry makes watching them an absolute pleasure.
Linklater chooses yet another European backdrop which plays off wonderfully against the less optimistic views that the couple now shares; long scenes are filled with back-and-forth dialogues that are completely engrossing.
Wonderfully stimulating and disturbingly honest, Before Midnight delivers a natural extension of the Before series. The newest, and maybe closing, chapter is a wonderful and surprisingly sincere portrayal of life, love and what it takes to make it work.