Review: Before Midnight

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Midnight.
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Midnight.


Rating: ***** 

The Most Hated Film Critic rates Before Midnight as 2013’s best film.

Trilogies have become a staple today. Every Hollywood film is released with plans of a trilogy in mind. When Before Sunrise ended with the promise of the lead characters – Jesse and Celine – agreeing to meet six months later, we thought they will meet six months later.

Nine years later came Before Sunset, the sequel that told us what happened to the characters created by Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan. Jesse did turn up six months later, but Celine didn’t. You can see Ethan Hawke as Jesse trying to hide his disappointment when he narrates the event. This of course is Hawke’s credibility as an actor. In fact, the Before trilogy showcases a string of memorable performances that none of his other films did.

With Before Sunset, director Linklater gave another open ending, but this time we weren’t sure what to choose. The third film Before Midnight takes place nine years later and answers your questions about the second film.

Films set in exotic locales like Greece or Italy tend to be a postcard from the filmmaker. But, Before Midnight does not fall prey to that. It’s a story about a couple with differences trying to get along. The film is shot in the same way, not paying heed to the enchanting locations or the people. The film is selfish. It’s only about them.

What impressed me the most was the maturity in both characters and that they would give anything to go back to the summer of 1995 so they won’t have to wait this long to unite.

Jesse and Celine are a couple now. They have adorable twin daughters, whom we will meet briefly. Why should we have to? This is a selfish film. We are here only to watch what happens to them and not worry about the kids.

The couple continue to have their disgruntled arguments about politics, science, sex, love, family and even mortality. More amusing are the conversations they have with others. The centrepiece of the film is a dinner conversation between four couples – all in the different stages of life.

Linklater tries to draw you towards the anti-climactic argument which does unravel their nine-year long union. Given that it is a well-written scene, you may wonder if it adds value to the characters.

Before Midnight should be on everyone’s must watch list. It’s the best in the trilogy and the best this year.

It closes the story arc. It celebrates the art of dialogue. It celebrates life in your forties. It is made up of emotions you’d feel at that age. It is in fact telling you to go forth and say what’s on your mind. Would you much like these characters wait this long to reunite?


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