November 29, 2021

Film review: Before Midnight

First things first, for those who haven’t seen Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, find them and do it as soon as possible. They will change the way you view the romantic comedy genre altogether and show you what it really is supposed to be like. Richard Linklater directs the magnificent pair of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in three movies that manage to understand and give back everything that makes us human.

That being said, you might find yourself sceptical about all the dialogue that never seems to stop for a breather, but you need to be patient to discover all the wonders they have to offer.

Before Midnight strays a bit from the first two ones, becoming much more real and even heartbreaking at times. Where the first one enclosed all the naive romanticism of a chance meeting between two 23-year-olds, Celine and Jesse, and the second managed to perfectly portray their meeting after nine whole years with all the mistakes and choices they made in the meantime, this third movie shows a whole new aspect of their relationship.

At 42 their life is at a completely different stage and during their summer vacation in Greece it all comes out in the open. The film is basically separated into three long scenes, which create chapters in a way. The locations are absolutely idyllic, from Patrick Leigh Fermor’s house, to the scenic routes of Messinia and the beautiful Costa Navarino hotel, you can’t help but be mesmerized by the places they visit. And though this stands for all three movies, here it plays a much more important role since everything is not exactly as it seems.

The dialogue is the most important feature and having been co-written again by the two stars along with Linklater, it makes everything seem so much more natural and personal. It touches on many different subjects, especially as we see them having lunch with a group of friends in the first scene of the “trilogy” where Jesse and Celine interact with other loved ones. But the most important subject remains the same and that is human relationships of every kind.

The dialogue, along with each and every wonderfully accurate performance, is able to create a sociological study of sorts and show exactly how modern human relationships work and survive today. It resonates in every word they say even if it is seemingly unrelated and, of course, that is when all the little puns start making their first appearances, amid wonderful humour and loving words.

Delpy is amazing as Celine in this age, with all her responsibilities and burdens which turn her into an energy ball ready to hit Jesse where it hurts. And Hawke beautifully takes on the role of the calm and patient one in the relationship, in order to try and keep the balance. There is a scene in the hotel which starts out as the perfect romantic evening and completely disintegrates with Celine letting all her pent-up frustration out in an outburst that is met with confusion as well as many efforts to clear the air on Jesse’s part. It can be harsh sometimes with the hot-blooded Celine saying all kinds of things aiming to hurt him, and even more when you see Jesse trying to keep his cool as much as possible and give her honest answers, despite it all. The thing is, as much as it may hurt, we are just seeing two people trying to manage a long relationship with all the various issues that may come with it on these new terms.

That’s what makes this movie and series so special; the fact that there are parts of both characters that resonate with everyone in spite of their age or their place in life. It overcomes everything and becomes a universal dialogue on human relationships. Everyone has lived some portion of what they are going through and this makes it extremely powerful. If you manage to put every preconception away and concentrate on the essence of what they are saying, you will find out that it is very honest and personal in every single aspect.

I will not spoil it for you any further, but I will say that this is not a series to miss. You will be immersed in their incredible universe, which becomes completely yours by the end, encompassing all the little truths of life and relationships in a magnificent way through witty dialogues and heartfelt performances. One can only hope that there will be more of their work for us to enjoy in the not so distant future, just to get another glimpse of humanity through their incredible perspective.

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