Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★★½

"Like sunlight, sunset, we appear, we disappear. We are so important to some, but we are just passing through."

Well, I couldn't wait any longer. After recently watching and loving the first two films, I had to know how this ends (assuming this is the last movie). And while it was quite a different movie from the first two, it went in the direction it needed to go. Whether I wanted it to or not.

Just like in the second film, this one takes place 9 years after the previous film (Is there a significance to this number?). It starts off with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) walking around an airport with his son. The two are making small chit chat until his son eventually gets on a plane alone and we find out he's flying back to his mom in America. The camera cuts back to a very sad Jesse as he watches his son board the plane. Then he walks out of the airport to his car which has Céline (Julie Delpy) and their two twin daughters in it. Mind blown! Bravo, Mr Linklater. That was a brilliant way to answer my question of what happened after the abrupt ending of the last film. Then the rest of the film is them spending the rest of their summer vacation in Greece.

I think with each of these films, Linklater tries to top himself as far as getting the longest one take shot. In this one, it takes place in the car as Jesse and his family are driving away from the airport to the house that they've been staying at. This scene had to of gone on for 15 minutes at least. I kept thinking about those poor child actors in the back seat pretending to be asleep the whole time and wondering how many takes it took for them to get the scene right. Needless to say, the end result was impressive and felt seamless.

I guess Jessie's books about his relationship with Céline have been doing well because some famous author invited them to stay at his house for the summer. Hence, their vacation in Greece. Which leads us to another great scene of them all sitting down and eating lunch and having some very interesting, if not amusing conversations with the people they've been staying with. The whole scene was expertly written and shot. I just can't get over how extremely well done this film is. Which finally leads us to what these movies are all about. Jesse and Céline alone, walking and talking. However, the conversation is completely different from the last two movies since this time, they've been together for the past 9 years instead of apart like the other films. And Hawke and Delpy play their characters to perfection. From chit chat to flirting and then eventually, a huge fight that goes on for a long time and gets uncomfortable to watch. But it works and feels like a real fight a couple would have. The good.

I was really worried that I wouldn't like this one since I loved the first two so much and related to them. While I didn't relate to this one and it was a very different movie, I still loved it. The character's relationship evolved for better or for worse and it was all so well done. I love that Delpy and Hawke wrote a lot of their character's dialogue with Linklater once again. It was nice to see how they ended up and while I suppose they could make another sequel, I really don't see any reason to. As far as problems, my only complaint about this one would be the nudity. It just felt so awkward and out of place. In the other two films, the sex always happened off camera so I don't know why they felt they had to show some skin in this one. Not to mention, that it went on for far too long. But it's a minor nitpick, I suppose. Otherwise, this is a wonderful film and the trilogy as a whole is definitely up there with some of my favorites. I will be buying this set when it comes out on criterion next month.

Philip Carroll liked this review