Before Midnight (2013)

Before Midnight (2013)
  • Time: 108 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Richard Linklater
  • Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick

In ‘Before Midnight’, we meet Celine and Jesse 9 years on. Almost 2 decades have passed since that first meeting on a train bound for Vienna, and we now find them in their early 40’s in Greece. Before the clock strikes midnight, we will again become part of their story. Before Midnight is an upcoming American romance drama film and the sequel to Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004).


  • I’ve felt that pushing it to a third film for this trilogy was asking too much already since the first two ended on such a great note. However with that being said Before Midnight ends with another great note, and hopefully it’s conclusive movement in a trilogy.

    It has definitely been a great contemporary romance, as well as a true definition to realist film making. The takes are long, and the actors perform well in these static shots situated in one of so little places (mounted on the front of a car, etc). Again the film was more of character study over the ambitious plot points that push any blockbuster film. Not much happens but rather the development of a relationship, which is ultimately satisfying to watch for where it has gone over the years since we last seen the two characters.

    I’ll admit that I generally don’t like Ethan Hawk but in this film (as well as the previous two in the series) he has performed.

    This is one of those films you could batch with the independent fanfare films, so don’t expect crane shots or other cinematographic maneuvers that will simply drop kick your visual expectations. It is what it is visually, it’s a realist film where form is neglected to the point of invisibility, and as a result you witness the characters in all there glory without the (often necessary) satisfaction of great cinematography and / or (for the masses) special effects.

    Enjoy this film with the love in your life, and you won’t regret it.

  • Before Midnight is the third, and hopefully not last, part of a serial of movies following almost exclusively two people – Jesse and Céline – and the evolution of their romantic relationship. The movies are very realistic, smart, romantic, beautiful and come out every nine years showing us how Jesse and Céline, and their relationship, have changed. In the first movie, Before Sunrise, they are twenty-year olds who meet on a train, fall in love and spend a night together talking, but decide they won’t keep in touch. In Before Sunset they meet, almost by chance, nine years later and the ending is ambiguous – but it’s all explained in Before Midnight.

    In the beginning of the movie, we find Jesse (Ethan Hawke) at the airport, escorting his son Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick), who’s going back to the USA, where he lives with his mother – Jesse’s ex-wife. Afterwards we learn he’s still with Céline (Julie Delpy), they have twin daughters and live in Paris, but are currently on vacation in Greece. They begin a little fight right away, and later in the movie they realise they’re going through a serious crisis, especially since Jesse wants to move to the States to spend more time with his son and Céline, on the other hand, doesn’t want to give up her life in France.

    Before Midnight has a Woody Allen feel to it: it takes place in a beautiful Mediterranean country, and there are many characters involved in the story, at least in the start. Particularly the scene in which they are all seated at the table, having lunch and talking looks as if it was directed by Woody. Unfortunately, this scene doesn’t really work, since those conversations at lunch are badly written – you can see it’s not spontaneous dialogue, it’s just script those actors know by heart. And one of the things we love about the Before serial, is that it all looks incredibly spontaneous, as if you were watching two friends walking down the street and talking. This characteristic is lost in the first part of the movie, but is restored later, when our two main characters remain alone. Which inevitably makes me wonder whether the other characters were really necessary, since incorporating new characters greatly differentiates this movie from its predecessors.

    Still, all those characters managed to make this movie look real: since Jesse and Céline are now over forty, and have children, they aren’t focused exclusively on their relationship and on each other, like they were in the previous movies. Also, the conversation at lunch is interesting, as it provides many different opinions on love, from all age groups. Actually, I consider this movie to be the most realistic of the three: love is no longer exclusively great and romantic, we realise all relationships have problems and take a lot of effort not to fall apart. Before Sunrise was all about infatuation and young, idealistic love. Before Sunset was about people who realise their lives suck and decide to change them while they’re still young, thinking they will find perfection in a new relationship. Before Midnight doesn’t consider love the solution to all the problems – people need to really work on their relationships in order to be happy.

    The climax, during which Jesse and Céline fight, is beautifully directed and, once again, very realistic. Hawke and Delpy are so good in their roles, you can’t help but think they’re married in real life, too. Another great thing is that, during their fight, it’s very difficult to take sides even though you can identify with the characters. From a strictly technical point of view, the long takes might not be as frequent as in the previous movies, but still make Before Midnight look lovely. While the movie might seem depressing from this review, it actually isn’t. Love might not be the solution to all problems, but it certainly helps resolving them when you’re in a relationship. But what happens when you’re insecure about everything, when memories of your great love are hidden under a big pile of secrets, unspoken words, unresolved arguments, fears, insecurities and ultimately your whole life? It’s inevitable we forget our relationships’ beginnings and put other people before our partners sometimes, but it’s vital that, in the end, we go back to where we started, just to check how we’re doing instead of destroying ourselves with irrational fears of abandonment – and I think that’s the movie’s message.

    Rating: 8/10

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