Quick Hit: A series that finishes with a slap in the face after two movies of fairy tales.
Real life is hard. If there’s anything you learn as you grow up, that’s one of the main things. However, we tend to gloss over this as a society. It’s like no one truly wants to talk about how hard life can be. In movies, especially romances, we pretend that little things will be infinitely looked over, because, love. We even pretend that women should make more sacrifices than men when it comes to love. That’s why I’m proud to talk about a movie that shoves all of that crap out of the way and shows life as it really is.
Before Midnight is the next (last? I guess we have to wait 9 years to find out) in the Richard Linklater trilogy. It’s nine years later, and Jesse is dropping his son Hank off at the airport. He has spent the summer with Celine and Jesse, and he states it was the best summer of his life. The opening scene is a terrific reminder of how powerful the dialogue in this trilogy is, as Celine and Jesse talk about different things as they drive through Greece (vacation). Their twin girls are asleep in the backseat, and the movie shows parenting as it is really – little white lies, some stealing of food, and a giant amount of love.
This realism persists throughout the film. They are staying with a famous author, and one of Jesse’s friends and his wife have purchased a hotel room for the night for them. There is a lot of discussion at the table about the difference in expectations of love of those at different levels in life, and all of it is interesting, even if you don’t agree with the conclusions that are formed. I took a little offense to the young couple, who seemed to be portrayed as both realistic and naïve.
As the night goes on, Celine and Jesse go for a long walk to the hotel room. This continues the trilogy’s use of long, extended takes and excellent dialogue that is buoyed even further by Hawke and Delpy’s performances. The couple knows exactly which buttons to press at which times, something that only comes with familiarity. They know the points that will hurt the other, and at times, these are pressed
It’s a natural part of life to grow older, and for things to change physically between a couple. Kids especially change the nature of a physical relationship, and you can tell that the Celine and Jesse have long since fallen into a rhythm of scheduled intimacy. It’s a point that Celine attacks Jesse with in one of the climatic moments, and it’s a wonder that the dialogue allows for each character to have the moment of lucid clarity. The audience can see the points coming from both sides, and, as is usual in most long-term relationships, there isn’t always a clear winner. The scene in the hotel room is so real that it hurts, with every blow stinging a bit more than the last.
As I mentioned in the reviews for the last couple of movies, it takes a lot for a director and writing team not to give an audience the happy ending that we all hope for. At the end of the film, nothing is solved; there are still the same problems that were before, and nothing has been ultimately decided in regards to the couple’s fate. Instead, we are left to ponder and to think about our star-struck lovers as they continue to grow in their love and relationship.
I for one, think that’s beautiful. For me, I’m giving Before Midnight an “A-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"