Richard Linklater’s sequel to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset bring us back to the love saga of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke), nine years after our last encounter with the characters. The questions, the anxieties, the doubts any fan had about what happened to the couple in and after Paris are finally revealed, surprisingly not leaving room for criticism.
On the first one, Before Sunrise, Celine and Jesse meet on a train and they spend one day in Vienna getting to know each other before they part, at sunrise, promising to meet again in a determined place, date and time. They never exchange phone numbers, emails, so their only hope and chance of meeting again is to be there at the scheduled date. They are in their early twenties, still trying to figure out who they are.
Before Sunset shows us the characters getting together in Paris after nine years, during Jesse’s book launch party. Celine reads a summary of his book only to discover he wrote about them and she decides to go after him. We also learn that Jesse was stood up at the fatidic reencounter and he is now married, father of a boy. After a day together, talking about the past and what happened with their dreams, Jesse looses his plane to stay with Celine. As the time passes, the characters mature and new problems and dilemmas come to surface in their dialogues, which is where the strength of the movies relies.
In Before Midnight, they are still together, they have twins, but Jesse struggles to say goodbye to his american soon after spending a summer vacation together in Greece. Jesse implies that he would consider moving to Chicago to stay closer to his son, a revelation that is not taken very well by Celine. The drama takes another dimension as it moves from their individual problems, portrayed on the earlier movies, to their complex issues as a couple.
It was a particularly good experience to me because my husband happened to be away, backpacking. I am sure he would complain the movie is “all about their conversation”, “there is no action”, “too dramatic”, “too intellectual, too brainy”, stuff like this. As a woman, not necessarily a passionate feminist as Celine, there is no way you won’t relate with some of the characters dilemmas. Just to name one: the constant struggle to have a career and take care of your family, while trying to share some of the responsibilities and duties with your husband or partner.
The recognition of their problems presents the couple with two options: stay or leave. I guess when you put things in perspective, differently than what most fairy tales teach us, sometimes, love is not enough. Love is not a proof of happiness, it doesn’t ensures anything, except, maybe, that somebody cares about you. I say maybe because some people have a disturbingly weird way of showing love, and, let’s face it, in those circumstances you might be better off alone. My point is: if love is not enough to make us happy, is it enough to keep people together? The movie offers a wonderful insight into a couples life and a realistic answer to that question, something a little difficult in movies nowadays.
- Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Richard Linklater bring ‘Before Midnight’ to Tribeca (examiner.com)
- Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Richard Linklater discuss ‘Before Midnight’ in Berlin (examiner.com)
- Before Midnight: Last Time, This Time, Next Time (boiseweekly.com)
- Hawke, Delpy pitch-perfect in ‘Midnight’ (observer-reporter.com)
- FILM REVIEW: Before Midnight (cbc.ca)
- The Heartbreaking Genius Of “Before Midnight” (buzzfeed.com)
- A Winter’s Tale: Before Midnight (3quarksdaily.com)