Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★★★

Before Midnight, the conclusion to Linklater's eponymous trilogy, is in many ways the most thematically complex and emotionally evocative. But, again, I don't think this is necessarily a reflection of how good this film is, though, it is technically the most polished and assured. I simply believe that life in general tends to get more complicated as we go along, the types of problems we have to face in life get progressively more convoluted and the compromises we have to make in order to keep things together are more tragic, for lack of a better word.

Therefore, being fully cognizant of the fact that Before Midnight affected me the most, both viscerally and intellectually, I can only see it as a part of something greater. Sure, most stories are structured so as to reach a climax in their final acts but having looked at this whole trilogy from a distance, it is only true because of what I personally project onto those characters; because I can relate with an adult Jesse and adult Celine, just as I relate to some of their problems and regrets.

But this can be easily cast aside and these three films can be seen as one story, one love and one relationship viewed from three different angles. The changes in perspective do not affect the idea that the love connecting Celine and Jesse remains always the same. It may be understood or expressed differently, but it is nonetheless the same. I think it is most aptly visualised when three scenes, one from each of the instalments are set side by side: the scene from Before Sunrise where Celine and Jesse pretend to talk on the phone with their friends, the scene where Celine plays a waltz for Jesse in the epilogue to Before Sunset, and the scene where Jesse reads a fake letter from the future to Celine in Before Midnight. They are all confessions of love. One is immature, quirky and funny, one is poetic and one is reasoned but somehow encompassing the spirit of the previous two. And in these three key scenes Richard Linklater encoded the thesis of this entire story – the idea of real love which is far from perfect, but truly worth fighting for.

Taken together, this whole trilogy is a journey that took me through my memories, perceptions of my personality and even forced me to look a bit more critically upon my own decisions. It is an unforgettable cascade of complex emotions and intellectually-stimulating concepts that adds up to an extremely honest description of what it takes to be a human, to raise a human and to love a human. Therefore, I am certain that Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight form the single greatest love story and should be celebrated as such.

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