By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
The rumors surrounding Before Midnight constituted some of the strangest movie news I’ve run across. Long speculated about, and roundly denied for years, all of a sudden the rumors started coming hot and heavy last year, although all involved denied them… until they just up and announced that not only would it be a reality, but that they’d already pretty much completed the thing. Talk about instant gratification.
The reason this was even possible is to a large part due to how fully Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy inhabit their Jesse and Celine characters from Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, and how ably they and co-writer/director Richard Linklater visualize where their relationship would be at any given point in time. So… as for a synopsis. First off, if you haven’t seen the first two films in the series, go do that, immediately. Not only won’t you regret it, but you’ll get far more out of this one if you do. Likewise, if you’d like to stay in blissful, romantic ignorance, stop at the open-ended conclusion of Sunset.
Spoilers, if you somehow haven’t seen a preview or heard anything about this film, and like to tempt fate by reading reviews before watching a flick.
Jesse did miss that plane after all, and nine years later is still with Celine, with twin demon moppets to boot.
The Shining twins have nothing on you
They’re having a rare summer-long vacation in Greece, which is just coming to a close, and Jesse dropping off his son at the airport to return to his ex-wife in Chicago is what sets the plot, and the many conversations it consists of, rolling.
First off, here’s a raise of the glass to the sheer ballsiness needed to keep trying to top something many consider to be perfect. This crew was able to do that in Sunset, and arguably once more supersede (and certainly at least match) their previous efforts with Before Midnight. This film is different from the other two, but has to be. Nine years later, that heady initial romance has gone, and while Celine and Jesse’s witty repartee continues, it’s now focused on the change love undergoes after so much time, and what must be done to sustain it in the face of the trials and tribulations it inevitably must face.
Linklater and cinematographer Christos Voudouris shoot the film beautifully, with the ancient sights and beautiful vistas of Greece’s Peloponnesian peninsula providing an alluring backdrop to the staple marathon conversations that make up this series. Critiquing the acting of this film is almost impossible, as by this point Hawke and Delpy just are Jesse and Celine. The supporting players also do a fine job delivering Delpy/Hawke/Linklater’s engrossing, thought-provoking dialogue, but I was particularly floored by Natalia’s (Xenia Kalogeropoulou) dinner table monologue, which was basically the auditory equivalent of the opening sequence of Up.
I dare you not to FEEL!
Spoilers, to an extent
I haven’t walked out of a theater wanting to talk about a film quite so badly for a long time, particularly with a member of the opposite sex. Here’s the spoiler part: Celine and Jesse fight. A lot. I wonder… is why I’m so consistently on Jesse’s side because I’m male? Or does everyone agree that Celine is, as Jesse says, the mayor of Crazytown?
I thought it was this guy.
Anyway, this beer is pretty much due to how vicious and cutting Celine is, and much of a downer it is to watch these two paragons of romance throw down like this. It’s not that this all doesn’t belong, or feel anything but a natural progression of their relationship, but beer will help with how depressing it all is. I’m not sure if all viewers will agree, but I personally don’t see how the almost inevitable at this point Before Noon won’t be a long morning session of civil court.
Before Midnight delivers on all fronts as an incredibly realistic, impossible to tear your eyes away from portrait of a relationship which cinephiles have come to value as much as the principals themselves.
Take a Drink: whenever Jesse and/or Celine sass their offspring
Take a Drink: whenever you spot a reference to the previous two films
Take a Drink: whenever Jesse is dreamy and impractical
Take a Drink: whenever Celine is harshly the opposite
Take a Drink: whenever battle breaks out in the War of the Sexes
Do a Shot: for every fucked up anecdote