Sunday, December 29, 2013

Movies: Before Midnight ('Best of 2013' List)

"How long has it been since we've just been wandering around bullshitting?"

Too long!

Before Midnight is the third film in what is, to-date, a trilogy about the ongoing romantic relationship of Céline (played and co-written by Julie Delpy) and Jesse (played and co-written by Ethan Hawke). A chance meeting between strangers on a train in 1994 leading to a day spent in Vienna with a promise to meet again, and the actual reunion nine years later in Paris, were the stories of the the previous films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, respectively.

Once again directed and co-written by Richard Linklater, this chapter takes place during a vacation to Greece nine years after Sunset. Céline and Jesse are now married with young twin daughters. The film opens with Jesse at an airport seeing off his son from his previous marriage back to the U.S. for the start of a new school year.

This film is a little older, and a little harsher, as reality and romance come into conflict. This couple has always been thoughtful, but Céline comes across as more pragmatic this time around (perhaps she always was). Relationships are delicate things, and as the story progresses, the characters and the audience worry that this bond is at a precarious juncture. Is this the inevitable nature of all romances over time?

Part of the resonance of the story for some of us viewers is that Céline and Jesse are contemporaries, and though the specifics of their relationship are not directly applicable to everyone (how often do you get to hash out your life with your significant other in exotic locales?), there is enough common ground and truth in their experience and the articulation of it that leads to us reflecting on our own relationships. It's one of the rare, powerful things that can happen with movies. That it's happened over the course of three films is rarer still.

Add to that: charming and witty leads, stellar naturalistic dialogue, filmed against beautiful European cities. What's not to like?

As long as the three principles are interested in expanding this tale, I would gladly visit these characters again in another nine years.

Other goodness:
  • Delpy as Céline, acting like a theorectical bimbo during a lunch with friends to underscore a point.
  • Lying to your kids.
  • The ending, equal parts hopeful and sad.

No comments:

Post a Comment