Starring Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
18 years later for the characters and 9 years later since Before Sunset, writer/director Richard Linklater returns to his beloved characters Celine and Jesse as they head into yet another difficult phase of their lives. Winning raves at Sundance, where it premiered, and with Linklater coming off the highly successful Bernie, Before Midnight is already earning Oscar buzz for its screenplay and possibly even its actors. I wasn’t really a fan of the previous ‘Before’ films, but this one has something more urgent and final than the other three and that appealed to me more than the rest. Maybe it’s also because in 2013 Hawke and Delpy are much more accomplished and polished actors and, in this case, writers.
Jesse (Hawke) is about to send his son back to his mother in the States, as much as it pains him. His son just told him he has the best summer of his life and Jesse fears he has already missed the most important part of his teenager’s life. Jesse and Celine (Delpy) have twins and still live in Paris together but have been vacationing for six weeks in Greece, where they walk around ancient ruins and discuss their past, present and future. Jesse wants to entertain the idea of them moving their family to America to spend more time with his son, but Celine says that would be asking her to give up her independence, which begins a roller coaster of emotion and a deeper understanding of their love for each other.
Before Midnight is certainly not the most entertaining of Linklater's films, which all seem to be starkly different from each other.
“You are the one who will not shut up!” Jesse yells at his wife in one of their many arguments which highlight the film’s only tension. These films have always been long conversations made carefully into a film. One moment they are having a romantic interlude with food and sunsets and the next Celine is storming out saying her love for her husband is gone. Sprinkled with enough good and interesting moments throughout, Before Midnight is certainly not the most entertaining of Linklater’s films, which all seem to be starkly different from each other.
There are so many good one liners in the film that it would reduce the film to spell them out here out of context. Delpy has long been known for her knife like wit and often over the top jokes, but here it really works nicely as she tries to get under Jesse’s skin. The setting for the film is stunning and how Linklater holds such long takes so you really get to experience the real time sunset and the evolution of these characters, or perhaps the conclusion is really interesting. However, this isn’t a film for everyone and if you can’t appreciate sparse but intelligent writing you will find this exhausting and dull.
Third time is the most charming.