Before Midnight

Before Midnight

I hate this film. I know I’m sorry I’m going against the grain but I have so many issues with Before Midnight. I know this isn't going to be a popular review but hey-ho I’m gonna try and get down my thoughts. This is probably just going to be a big unorganised rant so be warned.

Firstly I found there was a massive change in the personalities of both characters, but notably Celine. Jesse has become a manipulative, passive aggressive ass-hole who mocks Celine's feminism and Celine has become completely irrational, unsympathetic and overemotional. I mean I'm not saying their characters can't change over the years, I would be surprised if their characters didn't change at all after 19 years, but it just felt out of character. It was like the writers were so eager to portray the 'hardships of marriage' (even though they're not married) that they lost sight of the original characters and their personalities and just ended up pushing their ideas of why relationships go wrong onto Jesse and Celine.

In past films Jesse seemed to share Celine's feminist views and Celine was always open to talking about deep things and discussing problems but here Jesse's a complete dick about feminism shouting ‘we’re not in the 1950s any more’ and then proceeding to laugh when Celine says ‘the best thing about being over 35 is that you don’t get raped so much’. Haha rape very funny yes when women get older they don't get raped as much haha yes we definitely don’t need feminism anymore hahahaha.

Celine won't talk about any of the issues the couple faces and she's really unsypathetic towards Jesse for example when he says his grandma died. What happened to those deep conversations Celine used to have? They've turned into Celine asking Jesse superficial questions about if he still finds her attractive and if he thinks they'll be together forever and ever.

It frustrates me that the characters went from in the first two films acknowledging that this idea of true love forever being an unecessary expectation that too many people have to having ridiculously soppy conversations about how they'll be together for another 56 years - when knowingly there are massive problems in their relationship. I just feel like the sceptical Jesse and Celine of the past two films wouldn't do that.

It is clear this relationship is ridiculously dysfunctional and toxic for both members yet the film continues to romanticize it. The narrative seems to tell us that any relationship between two strong-minded individuals will end up turning sour. This is such an out-dated point of view and the whole film seems to be channelling this stupid message that men and women are too innately different to ever get along properly; that women are too irrational and emotional to be able to actually listen to men’s rational arguments and that men innately need/want to be better than women and care more about their penises than their loved ones. This is basically the ‘men are from mars women are from venus’ bullshit made into a film. Men and women can get along and have mature, communicative, loving, non-abusive relationships and most of the gender differences they talk about and that they say are 'innate' are not innate but products of society and its values that not all men and women stick to.

Celine used to be one of the only existing positively represented feminist characters in pop culture. For some weird reason Celine is now being portrayed with all of the horrible negative stereotypes people hold about feminist: she's irrational, harsh, and incapable of empathy or compromise rather than the thoughtful, open-minded woman she was in the first two films. This film reinforces the idea that it feminists make bad romantic partners and that it is anti-feminist to do traditionally female things such as looking after the children etc.

The usual Linklater magic in the script wasn't really there, the dialogue felt forced and pretentious. It lacks the subtlety of the past two films and just didn't feel the same. In Sunset Jesse describes his ex-wife as this wonderful woman who in the end just isn’t for him and now she’s a raging alcoholic 'cunt'? It seems to me like they made Jesse’s ex wife into a horrible character to legitimize his relationship with Celine and make it easier for the audience to back him leaving her. For me this just felt like a classic middle-aged couple problems film – both partners feeling unappreciated, like they do more than the other in the relationship, problems with step children and ex-partners, problems with sex life, arguments etc. We've seen it all before it's boring. I was looking forward to seeing an interesting representation of middle-aged couples (maybe one without children for once) but instead got a classic soap-opera plot.

Furthermore there’s a distinct lack of the magic Celine and Jesse once had. Of course they're older it's not going to be as passionate and I wasn't expecting that but the script was just no where near as engaging or natural as Sunset and Sunrise.

And seriously that end scene, they’ve just had a massive argument showcasing how their relationship is so so so dysfunctional, Celine has admitted that she no longer loves him and then Jesse is all like ‘ooh look how charming I am did I mention I’m a writer I’m deep I know how to win you back and fix all our problems let me read you a letter from the future how romantic am I you better fucking get with me now or I won’t be coming back to you bitch yeah sure we’re really fucking nasty to each other all the time but this is true love okay’ and they get back together – what the fuck? That had me actually pulling my hair out. Such a stupid Hollywood-style cheese ending.

I know people are going to argue that the characters have just changed as people do in life but for me it just felt out of character. You'll probably argue as well that the relationship 'magic' wasn't there because that's how relationships naturally calm down and break apart and I agree to a certain extent but I just didn't like the way this film looks at and presents the middle aged stage of their relationship.

I’ll give the film credit for the performances and for the car scene and argument which captured pretty well the stressfulness of couple arguments and I see how people love this film because it does ring true to a lot of problems that real life couples have. But apart from that I’m just frustrated by this finale to the trilogy because it’s not on the same level as the other two films it sucks. I won’t be able to watch Sunset and Sunrise in the same way again.

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