This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
georgie’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
okay... i finally rewatched this after dreading it for ages, and honestly it wasn't as emotionally devastating this time, which is good! i just reread the review i wrote two entire years ago, in which i apparently referred to jesse as an "emotionally abusive, entitled, misogynistic asshole" and uh... whoa! okay! Let's Unpack That!
i do think he's at least somewhat misogynistic but Aren't All Men Like That? i'm not sure why i was surprised. he's entitled, sure. and he can definitely be an asshole! BUT can i call him emotionally abusive? well, [steps onto my soapbox], as someone who's been emotionally abused, i do think i need to retract that statement. i believe it was a knee-jerk reaction on my part, and here's my thought process on that.
two years ago i was a completely different person in a completely different place, and BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET felt like the most beautiful, escapist films ever, so i had those expectations for BEFORE MIDNIGHT as well. when i watched the hotel room sequence for the first time, my primary emotion was... blindsided?? i felt betrayed, in a way. i refused to believe that the route this relationship had taken was canon and i did not want to believe that jesse and celine were unhappy, period. so i resorted to calling jesse emotionally abusive and left it at that.
HOWEVER! now i am Older (not by much, but i am Older) and at least somewhat wiser, and when i rewatched BEFORE MIDNIGHT, i felt the tension of the relationship throughout the film, not just in the hotel room sequence. the climactic fight did not come as a surprise to me this time not simply because i'd seen it before but because it all felt very... inevitable? i've been in a long-term relationship for almost 6 years now and i often jokingly refer to myself as "emotionally married" so when i rewatched this argument i just thought, "well, yeah. this is just what Happens if you're with someone for a long time and you have longstanding resentments and bitterness that you simply have not talked about and it all builds and builds and builds till it finally explodes and people say things that they don't really mean but also they do kind of mean it." yes, jesse says some EXTREMELY ugly things that i'm NOT happy about as a viewer (and as a woman lmao), and there's certainly a chance that this character is emotionally abusive but i'd just like to tell my past self that uhhh i have no way of actually knowing that information because i'm literally judging him on an argument he had on one (1) night of his life. emotional abuse is a pattern, folks! not an isolated incident! so. let this be a lesson to myself, i guess.
not really sure where i was going with this review, i just felt the need to Say All That because i don't necessarily stand by what i wrote 2 years ago. anyway this is a fucking great movie! but i sure wouldn't rewatch it for fun!
edit: something else i wrote in my first review was "love is dead"... i don't think that should be our takeaway from BEFORE MIDNIGHT though. it's so clear to me now that jesse and celine's fight really doesn't have much to do with whether they love each other or not (even though celine says at the end of the fight, "i don't think i love you anymore"), it's just that they're both exhausted by the sacrifices they've had to make and both of them feel that they've sacrificed more than the other person and that pisses them off. that's literally it. so... that's another thing i'd like to retract from my previous review i guess!