Before Midnight

June 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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If you have not seen the first two films in this on-going series, read no further.  Rent them, download them, steal them, whatever you need to do but see them first, then definitely see this one.  “Before Sunrise” came out in 1994 and featured a young Ethan Hawke (“Dead Poet’s Society,” “Gattica”)  and Julie Delpy (the “Colours” trilogy, “An American Werewolf in Paris,” “Broken Flowers”).  Both were 23 years old  and played “Jesse” and “Celine” who meet on a train and end up spending an unforgettable night in Vienna.  At the end of the film, they make a promise to meet back together 6 months later at that exact spot.  But do they?  Nine years later, Director Richard Linklater (“Slacker,” “Dazed and Confused,” “A Scanner Darkly”) reunited with both Hawke and Delpy and they co-write the sequel, “Before Sunset,” in which the two characters meet again in Paris.  They are now 32 years old and have not seen each other in the intervening years.  Both films are sweet and romantic; they follow the couple as they flirt, laugh, debate philosophical issues and fall in love.  This new film takes place another 9 years later in Greece, where they are on vacation with their young twin daughters.  At first, I was shocked by the tonal differences between this and the first two films.  This time, there is far less philosophy (though still more than most people engage in in any given day) and much more arguing.   Unlike the sweet flirtatiousness of the first film, most of Jesse and Celine’s interactions having a biting edge to them.  Each film’s final scene is heavily charged with a different emotion; of the three, this one was the most intense.  I had not expected it and felt a little annoyed when I left the theater but, as it sank in, I realized how rich it was.  This is the story of these characters in middle age and they have been so richly defined by now that I think this film can afford this ending; essentially, it has earned it.  Also, much more so than the last two, this film seems to be aware that it is setting itself up for a sequel in 9 years but, like real life, nobody (not Linklater or Hawke or Delpy or Jesse or Celine) knows what that sequel will look like.  I hope this series continues every 9 years for decades more.  If it does, it has the potential to be one of the most significant story arcs every put onto film.

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