Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and his son Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) are saying goodbye to each other at the airport. Hank is returning to his mother in Chicago after spending the summer holidays in Greece with his father. Jesse feels that he is being a bad parent, living in Paris, while his kid is growing up with his alcoholic ex-wife. Jesse is a writer, Céline (Julie Delpy), his girlfriend is considering a job offer. After meeting in Europe nineteen years ago and then losing sight of each other, only to find themselves again they are finally couple now and they have twin girls. Their holiday in Greece seems to be going well, but then Jesse brings up the fact that he wants to spend more time with his son. Céline deduces that he wants to move to Chicago and feels that she would have to give up her job opportunity. The whole thing escalates into a huge emotional fight where everything that has been bubbling beneath the surface finally comes out, questioning their love and relationship.
Richard Linklater‘s Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset) comes to a more than satisfying end with this last chapter: Before Midnight. While the first two films are romantic comedies with dramatic elements, this one has less comedy in it, but more serious relationship drama. The change of tone and “genre” is not only fitting, but elevates the threequel from similar fare. The particularity of Linklater’s trilogy is that it appeals more to men than it does to women (or so I’ve heard). Most romance films end with the couple getting together, few films show the complications and intricacies that come with a serious relationship: The fighting, vanishing passion and aging (or maturing). Even less movies are interested in showing a couple actually trying to work out their problems.
Before Midnight, like its predecessors is a dialogue based film. The perfect movie for the blind. Since it’s less about visuals, the script really needs to be rock solid, and it is. Besides Linklater’s wit and natural, real-life resounding words, the credit for it’s success has to go to the two leads: Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. On a first viewing I especially liked Hawke, however I always had a tendency to prefer him throughout the trilogy. Even if the later half of the film is just them fighting, it never gets boring or tedious or over-done. In fact the film still manages to keep its romantic heart. The film’s sweetness comes from the chemistry between the two and their credible affection for each other. In the same of its predecessors the film is not just about their relationship (or the other couples at different stages in their lives), but also about larger ideas and life (and technology!). Much like in a Woody Allen film every aspect of the human experience is explored and commented on, arriving to similar conclusions.
A great conclusion to one of the best trilogies around. The only one I prefer over this one is Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy, which also stars Delpy. I’d recommend Before Midnight to: Those that want a “smarter” romantic film, fans of Woody Allen and those who enjoy exquisite dialogue. Make sure you watch the first two films first though.
Rating on First Viewing
(on my laptop)
8 out of 10