Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★★

[77]

Contrary to popular opinion, this remains my favorite entry of the BEFORE trilogy—it arguably contains the series’ lowest lows, but also the highest highs, and jesus christ are they high, mountainous even. Started out thinking this was gonna be the weak link—the dinner party opening is charming but lacks the brute, emotional strength and intimate dynamic of both SUNRISE and SUNSET, and I assumed we would simply coast along with this unassuming, blithe tone. Once Jesse and Celine head to the hotel room, however, the film shifts from a cutesy sketch to a gutting tour de force with what is easily the most painfully acute depiction of a relationship’s rough patch since The Sopranos’ episode "Whitecaps." I often cite this latter half of the film as the single best example of meaningful/necessary (instead of superfluous) female nudity. Two films (and eighteen year) ago, Jesse would've done anything to see Celine naked; he was a dog in heat. Now here they are years later with kids of their own, barely able to carve out time for themselves, she's sitting there with her breasts out and at the ready, and they can't stop arguing with each other. The change in dynamic they've had over time is monumental.

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