In Review: Before Midnight

by Maryann O'Connor on 14/06/2013

before midnight

Is it really almost twenty years since we first met Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke)? In Before Sunrise (1995) they enjoyed youth and a spontaneous night together and now, in Before Midnight, we are with them for a third time as they experience the agitation and low points of a complex life shared with another person.

Before Midnight almost comes in two parts; in the first, Jesse drops his son [from his previous relationship] off at a Greek airport having spent a holiday with Celine and their young twin girls, an encounter which is awkward and sad in equal measure, but that seems inconsequential at the time. What happens here actually sets a relationship time bomb ticking, a bomb which will explode messily in the second half of the film.

The first part of the film resembles a warm, glowy night spent catching up with your best friends, talking the kind of talk usually only possible after quite a few glasses of alcohol at 2am in the morning. You know, philosophical shit. The second (and explosive) part of the film happens when a well -meaning friend books a hotel room for Celine and Jesse so they can spend some time away from the twins and recapture the people they used to be. Instead of giving them the time to patch things up and relax, this night away just seems to give them the space to fall apart.

Before Midnight is as engaging a film as its two predecessors; an inspired third joint contribution from Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. It deftly treads the fine line between self-conscious prattery and useful and recognisable revelation. There is plenty of exploration of the roles that men and women seem to find themselves in as the years roll by and the expectations which we all weight ourselves down with, a most enjoyable exploration despite all the soul-searching.

The interactions between Delpy and Hawke are still incredibly natural and poignant, displaying a joint skill that many filmmakers would give anything for. We have to ask: is it too soon to start thinking about a fourth film?!

Maryann has awarded Before Midnight four Torches of Truth

4 torches

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