Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★★★

Another nine years later. In Greece. The harsh reality. Nothing is perfect, nothing lasts forever, nothing goes the way you planned. Once it was all about cherishing the little moments, now you always feel there's something missing. An intimate representation of the flame of love burning down or bursting out ablaze more than ever before.

These three films are incredible. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy truly embody the characters, not for a second do I think of them as actors but as human beings capable of great emotion, be it happiness or sadness, love or hate. Richard Linklater manages to make all three movies feel so real and intimate, through unobtrusive, steady camera work and absorbing long takes that pull you in and make you forget you're watching a movie. In this film there's a 13-minute long scene in which the camera is placed on the hood of a car, pointed towards Hawke as he's driving and Delpy in the passenger seat. In this scene there's a single cut (some ruins are shown as they're passing by), other than that the camera stays on the actors talking to each other. That's two uninterrupted takes (5 and 8 minutes long, respectively) of pure cinematic brilliance.

Other important aspects are time and the locations where the events of these films take place in relation with Jesse and Celine. The first movie takes place over the course of a day (and night) in Vienna, a city renowned for its cultural diversity and liberal attitude, reflecting the young couple's passionate spirits and their desire for knowledge. The second movie, playing almost in real-time, is set in Paris, "The City of Love" where we find our protagonists reunited after a long time, about to start a relationship. The third movie, again happening in a day, takes place in Greece where tragedy has been created and where Celine and Jesse experience their own tragedy.

The scene in the hotel room near the end is so well put together it's baffling it actually is fictive. It is so intense and dramatic and believable. But also funny. Extremely funny. I was laughing so much. Maybe that just says how immature I am but I couldn't help myself seeing Celine and Jesse tear each other apart in such expressive ways. This fight also enables the trilogy to come full circle: at the beginning of Before Sunrise there was a couple in the train that started arguing, making Celine change her seat. A fight started their story together and a fight will end it. Or will it?

Would this film be this good without the first two? Probably not. Does it matter though? Hell no!

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