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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Before Midnight

BeforeMidnight

When Richard Linklater first made the romance Before Sunrise in 1995, I don’t know if he expected that the film would turn into a series that tracked the progress of a romantic relationship over the decades.  Before Midnight meets up with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) 18 years after they first met on that train to Vienna.  Since reconnecting in Paris, Jesse and Celine have now been together for nine years and are the parents of twin girls.  However, the two of them coming together didn’t come without its consequences and Jesse had to go through a messy divorce with the mother of his teenage son, who Jesse now regrets not being able to spend more time with.  Towards the end of a trip to Greece, Jesse ponders out loud about the possibility of moving back to America to be closer to his son.  This causes some tension in a relationship that perhaps doesn’t have the same spark as it used to and Jesse and Celine spend the evening pondering whether or not the love they have for each other is a permanent thing.

The main problem with the concept of fairy tale romances is that they tend to continue long after the couple supposedly lived happily ever after.  Jesse and Celine finally coming together was supposedly a dream come true.  However, they are no longer those two twenty-somethings who met on a train.  Now they are both in their 40s and cluing into the fact that perhaps real life isn’t what it’s hyped up to be.  Both Jesse and Celine are essentially the same people they were when they first met – except now they are a lot older.

Like the first two films, much of the plot focuses upon Jesse and Celine having long conversations.  There is a bit of a twist to this convention early on in the film, since the two of them are guests at a villa and spend a large portion of the first half of the film having conversations with others.  However, Jesse and Celine soon break off on their own and have a discussion that becomes increasingly more heated as the film goes on.  In fact, those seeing the film merely for the romantic angle might be turned off by the amount of fighting between Jesse and Celine.  However, this is probably a much more realistic depiction of romantic relationships than most of what’s seen in other films.

The assumption going into Before Midnight is that it is the final chapter of a trilogy of films.  While in some ways this assumption is valid, the film does leave things open enough that we might as well revisit Jesse and Celine again when they are both in their 50s.  Of course, perhaps it’s for the best that this series ends as a trilogy, so this story does not outstay its welcome.  We have followed this couple from their twenties, right into middle age and there is not really that much story left to tell, unless of course you want to track these characters right up to their deathbed.

It is in my personal belief not to judge these films individually, but rather as a whole.  When it is all said and done, Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy will probably go down in history as the most realistic and non-clichéd romance series in cinematic history.

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).