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SFF’13 Movie Review: “Before Midnight”

January 29, 2013

Screen shot 2013-01-29 at 12.58.26 PM18 years ago, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Deply entered Sundance with an unconventional love story about two young people meeting on a train heading to Vienna. What was to supposedly to end with Jesse (Hawke) & Celine (Deply) parting ways leaving us wondering if they’ll ever reconnect led to a sequel 9 years later, “Before Sunset”.

In 2004, “Before Sunset” finds Jesse & Celine in Paris, Jesse wrote a book about his night with Celine and how it’s affected his life, on his last stop of the book tour, Celine seeks Jesse out, leaving our two young lovers on a walk through Paris, ending with that mysterious question; what will happen to Celine and Jesse?

Now, in the third, and possible final chapter of Jesse & Celine, “Before Midnight” finds the two in Greece. After that night in Paris, Jesse  decided to stay with Celine, fathering twin girls with her, and sharing minmal custody with his son Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick). Jesse feels that Hank is starting to feel distant from him, Hank’s entering high school, and Jesse doesn’t want to miss these years with his son before it’s too late. Celine wants Jesse to find happiness but she doesn’t want to move to Chicago to do so. Compromise doesn’t seem to come hand in hand at this stage in their relationship, not to mention that the two still haven’t wed one another.

As fan of this series, it’s fun to see how far these two characters have grown in the span of 18 years, how much they’ve changed in certain ways, and yet haven’t changed their way of talking, bullshitting as Jesse puts it. The dialogue is the MVP for these movies, the dialogue is so rich and done to perfection, many wondered if most of what they’re saying is improv, Linklater stated at the Q/A that it was all planned and there was a lot of rehearsing before shooting.

The movie shows us the affects of long term relationships, and if the spark is still there. The youthful enthusiasm that Jesse & Celine had 18 years ago is still there, somewhat, but with the frustrations of parenthood, jobs, and the typical mid-life crisis poses a challenge for the two, which leaves them in a climactic argument that leaves them the ultimate question, are they in love with one another any more? And, is it too late?

Like the previous installments, “Before Midnight” ends with a hopeful cliffhanger that should leave fans of the series satisfied and hopeful about these characters, but perhaps hopeful for their own love lives. People can relate to Celine & Jesse in a lot of ways, thats why these movies are beloved by so many. Nobody wants to see love end, but we do want a realistic notion that it’s not too late.

GRADE: A-

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