BEFORE MIDNIGHT Movie Review
Photo Credit: Despina Spyrou. © 2013 Sony Pictures Classics
* May contain some SPOILERS. *
RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2013 (NY, LA, & Austin)
RATED: R..•..GENRE: Drama..•..RUNNING TIME: 108 min.
DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater
WRITERS: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
*Official Selection Sundance Film Festival 2013*
SXSW 2013..•..Tribeca Film Festival 2013
Before Midnight, the long-awaited and wholly endearing third installment in Richard Linklater’s epic tale of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), explores the formerly-star-crossed duo’s life as a couple—and the verbal and emotional maelstrom that defines their relationship.
Like its predecessors Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), Before Midnight provides a day-in-the-life-of glimpse at Jesse and Celine, finding them on summer vacation in Greece. The nine years since Celine melodiously warned Jesse, “Baby, you are gonna miss that plane,” have been busy for the couple, who’ve built a new life together and added two to their brood. Talking, teasing, and bickering their way through the day’s obstacles, Jesse and Celine confront the truth of their relationship—“It’s not perfect, but it’s real.”—and, before midnight, decide once more whether it’s worth fighting for.
In its construction and execution, Before Midnight is a master class in the art of interpersonal drama and quotable dialogue. The latter will undoubtedly worm its way into everyday conversations, whether discussing another’s maternal nature (“She has the motherly instinct of Medea.”), calling out irrationality (“You are the f–king mayor of Crazytown.”), describing a lover’s sexual M.O. (“Kissy, kissy. Titty, titty. Pussy. [snore]”), or tactfully commenting on a loved one’s weight (“Let’s just say there’s more of you to love.”).
As characters, Jesse and Celine are exceptional for their emotional authenticity. Their deep and all-consuming love is not only sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows—it’s volatile and maddening. Each understands the very essence of the other—yet they frequently find themselves completely and frustratingly out of sync. Their dysfunctional relationship seems totally exhausting, yet you can’t help but envy the passion of their bond.
Hawke and Delpy have perfected the tempestuous chemistry required to breathe life into such vivid characters. Alone with each other for much of the film, the duo’s dialogue is nearly continuous and the few moments of silence between them are emotionally-charged rather than awkward. Continually oscillating from dry humor to vitriol and back again, Hawke and Delpy deliver impressively complex performances.
Delightful in its own right, Before Midnight’s charm is not dependent on familiarity with the characters or backstory. Even those first meeting Jesse and Celine in this stand-alone gem will quickly feel like part of the old crowd.
Witty, romantic, and captivating, Before Midnight is enchanting on every level. An absolute must-see film.
• • • • • • • • • • • • •