Saturday, June 15, 2013

It Begins To Tell 'Round Midnight (Film Review: Before Midnight)

Richard Linklater's "Before" trilogy - "Before Sunrise," "Before Sunset," and now "Before Midnight" - tells the stories of a generation - specifically Gen X. I am a part of this generation. On the first movie, we get treated to a romanticized version of our first serious love. On "Before Sunset," we venture into not-quite maturity: where we are forced to face decisions we have made in our lives: we own our mistakes, and claim what we really want. On "Before Midnight," we take stock in the lives we have led: inching towards middle age, living with our warts and all. We are Ethan Hawke as Jesse. We are Julie Delpy as Celine, and in this movie we see ourselves, sometimes wistfully, sometimes painfully, always real. At this point in Jesse and Celine's life: challenges are heightened, and they know each other so well that they push buttons unconsciously that they come out too obvious, appearing planned. It is a treat to see both Hawke and Delpy sparring: these actors are very much in tune and emotionally invested in their characters that it feels awkward to be in on their conversations, sort of how you feel when you get caught in a room with a fighting couple you know very well. Yes, at times it can be exasperating, and I found myself wanting to shhhh them. But that just proves how real these characters and situations are. There's a late-summer theme to the movie. They just enjoyed a beautiful summer, and now are on their way back to lives again - sort of like the series. The romance may seem gone, but a new season is about to start and it will bloom again. Beautifully shot, I am reminded of a feeling when I saw the sunset in Santorini a few summers ago. It was a perfect ending to a day, but a better evening promises. I wonder if this is really the last of the series. I would certainly welcome them back.

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