Before Midnight
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

Sundance Review: Before Midnight

12:00 PM on 04.15.2013 // Allistair Pinsof
  @DtoidAllistair

From dawn to dusk

There is an ebb and flow to the laughter between the men and women of my theater, during Before Midnight. As Jesse makes a salient point about the manic nature of women, the men laugh. When Celine talks about the self-serving nature of men, the women laugh. Sometimes between the (now married) couple`s reminiscing, philosophizing, and bickering, something particularly universal and poignant is said that makes the men and women laugh in unison.

Before Midnight isn't a romance. It's a war between man and woman, each battling for righteousness and pride. The two lovers stand like titans on the screen, echoing our own complaints about the opposing sex. Words are thrown like punches, and when they go down together, the audience claps in unison.

[This review was posted as part of our 2013 Sundance Film Festival coverage. Due to some complications, a second review was written to coincide with the theatrical release. That can be found here.]

Before Midnight
Director: Richard Linklater
Rating: R
Release Date: May 24, 2013

Nearly a decade has passed since Before Sunset and even more since Before Sunrise, which contains the chance meeting in Vienna between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julia Delpy) that started the unlikely trilogy. The passing of time won't be lost on audiences. Hawke and Delpy wear it on their faces. The red of Jesse's beard is gone. He now sports a protruding bulbous gut. Celine has gained weight too, as it often happens after giving birth to two children (twin girls). Now in their forties, Jesse and Celine are no longer the faces of young, passionate romance that they once were. Now, they are the perfect parents. Something to aspire but not something to be labeled romantic or sexy.

Before Midnight opens with Jesse saying goodbye to his son, the one he left behind in Chicago after divorcing his first wife for Celine. It's a touching portrait of a father who can't bear to see his son go, and the effect this moment has on him doesn't fade away throughout the film (as it is with life). The camera then follows Jesse to a car parked outside the airport, where Celine and their two daughters await. The remainder of the film goes something like: car ride, sitting, lunch, walking, more sitting, and then some real high-stakes sitting to bring the film to a climax. As with Sunset and Sunrise, Midnight remains a compelling film despite no actual conflict until the last act, one filled with tension that never graced the previous two films.

There is a lack of action but never a lack of compelling beauty, which comes from the gorgeous countryside of Greece and the genuine chemistry between Hawke and Delpy. As much as I loved Delpy's interaction with Adam Goldberg and Chris Rock in her 2 Days in Paris and New York, the relationship she has with Hawke is profound and uncanny in its realism. I've never seen a film where a couple arguing half-naked appeared so genuine. In the film's darker moments, I felt like an unwanted voyeur. In the film's lighter moments, Jesse and Celine are dear friends that I can almost reach out and touch. Such is the naturalism in performance and direction contained within Before Midnight.

Richard Linklater gives Before Midnight larger, composed images to complement the wider scale of emotion in this entry. Celine and Jesse don't simply live for each other, in this film. The world is bigger than their love. Linklater opens the door to new characters that reflect on their relationship. Widows mourn their old flames and a young couple hints at what Before Sunrise may have been if Jesse and Celine lived in the era of Skype. The 30 or so minute middle of the film that finds Celine and Jesse having lunch at a gorgeous, historic estate brings so much to the entirety of Before Midnight. German cinematographer Walter Lassally, playing the role of the estate's host, gives one of the warmest performances I've ever seen. I love this man.

Long after the film ended, one of the many brilliant monologues stuck with me. Jesse, evaluating parenthood, reflects back on his teenage years, concluding that he wanted life to speed up so he could move out of his parents' house. Now, he only wants life to slow down so he can enjoy the years with his wife and children that seem to slide right past him. His son (of a previous marriage) is now mature enough to not need Jesse's omnipresence and old enough to offer his dad advice back. This isn't just an observation of Jesse's; it's a truth about life that fills every moment of Before Midnight. It's a film about accepting the flaws of the life we chose, finding happiness where we can, and enjoying the passing minutes that fill the day.

Jesse and Celine may not be quite as beautiful and young as they once where, but that was never what made them an envious couple. It's the rapid imagination they share: The private performances they put on for each other, the elaborate theories that they entertain, and the always conscious conversations that march instead of wander. Maybe a decade ago I wanted a romance like Jesse and Celine's, but now I want to be their son.




THE VERDICT: 94/100

94
Before Midnight - Reviewed by Allistair Pinsof

Spectacular. An instant classic that will go down as one of the best films we've ever seen.


Allistair Pinsof,
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidAllistair

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions


Flixist's previous coverage:
Before Midnight


  Mar 01

The best damn Oscar predictions around: 2014 edition

We don't get things wrong. The Academy does.


  Jan 17

Alec's Top 15 Movies of 2013

It was a damn good year for film


  Jul 19

Ten more films that should be in the Criterion Collection

Also more than ten, but let that be our little secret


  May 24

Review: Before Midnight

Part three of one of the most perfect trilogies in cinema


  May 10

NYC: A free evening with Linklater, Hawke & Delpy - 5/16

The team behind the Before series will discuss the trilogy on May 16th


  Feb 07

Richard Linklater's Before Midnight set for May release

The latest from Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy hits NY/LA on May 24th


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant
Ads on Flixist may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -