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Archive for the ‘Before Midnight’ Category

Before Midnight

Richard Linklater direct’s the third, and hopefully not the last, installment in the tale of Jesse and Celine.  We’ve seen them as they meet and fall in love in Before Sunrise.  We see them almost 10 years later as they find each other again in Before Sunset.  And we see them here as a couple together for 9 years, with two twin daughters of their own, in Before Midnight.

We’ve grown with Celine and Jesse over the past 18 years.  We’ve become invested in their relationship.  In fact, it’s almost safe to say that we’ve become part of that relationship too.  The unknown watchers in the sky.

This time around we begin with Jesse sending his son Hank back to his mother in Chicago, after spending a summer in Greece with the whole family.  Jesse has a great relationship with Hank, but we can tell he wants more out of that relationship.  There’s a little bit of sadness within Jesse because of his failure with his ex-wife, and his inability to be the father Hank needs all the time.

Celine and Jesse spend time in the car as they head to a dinner party.  Nothing much happens, they just talk to each other like the couple we’ve known for so long.  This is something we are used to by now in their story.  It is their story after all, we are  just a fly on the wall.

There’s a theme in Before Midnight about the difference between reality and the perception of reality.  Celine and Jesse are a couple, but they both are individual human beings as well.  They have created a life together and make decisions together, but they build their own personal realities based on their own perceptions.  It’s something that is expertly explored during a dinner between Celine and Jesse, hosted by their wise friend Patrick, and a cast of other characters involved in different phases of their own relationships.  It’s a fantastic scene that comes off dry at first, but sets the tone for the entire course of the film.

The genius of Before Midnight is that it is a living and breathing relationship, all three of the films are in fact.  It is the most accurate portrayal of a marriage that I’ve seen since probably Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage.  The film doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to make sure the audience is entertained, or attempting it even for that matter.  It just let’s Celine and Jesse be who they are, and in the course of their everyday relationship is where the value is.    They’re a couple, just like any couple.  They go through problems that many couples go through themselves, and they laugh and enjoy life as well.   You can see yourself in them, and in that way the film becomes bittersweet and also a little bit heartbreaking at the same time.

Richard Linklater has made his finest film to date, and that’s saying a lot from the guy that has had a proven track record over the years.  With Before Midnight I feel that he has taken his craft to a new level, and that he’s tapping in to themes that the great filmmakers of all time have explored.  Here he is excelling with the best of them.

Grade: A+