Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★½

The 300th Spartan

This one is gonna be really, really hard. Not just because because of the antecipation I had going in, but also because of my overall appreciation of the film coming out. Even while I type these words, I still haven't decided on a numeral score that I think matches my disappointment and joy perfectly. Let me get this one underway, see if I can reach a consensus by the end of it...

The first 15-20 minutes had me really worried. The thing I always liked about the franchise is how it focuses on just these two people, Jesse and Celine, and how their personal traits battle their way into a relationship. That's what made the chemistry flow and the movies work. But the beggining of Before Midnight features Jesse and Celine communicating with a new array of characters, mostly via idle talk, which had me believing that Linklater had chosen to go a different way for the ending of the trilogy. It isn't until the first big ensemble scene that the feel of the previous instalments started coming back, with the conversation shifting to a more serious, adult tone about relationships, life and death, letting us have the first good look at the soul of the two main characters and where they are right now both as a couple and themselves.

From there, the movie doesn't let go of the momentum, everyone else goes away and it's all about Jesse and Celine again. The long walks, the debating, the casual stories about their past, it all comes back and it does so beautifully. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy give out their best performances of the whole trilogy, showing why they still are what is probably the most convincing on-screen couple of the last decades. Just like their characters, they show their maturity as actors, approaching really intimate moments so casually that you'd believe they really are husband and wife.

I liked Before Midnight , of that much I'm sure. It will probably grow more on me on repeated viewings, but so far my opinion is positive. Faults aside, Linklater created a solid trilogy that should linger at the top of every list regarding Romance in movies. Godspeed, Jesse and Celine.

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