Before Midnight

Movie Review #640

Click here for the audio review.

before_midnight_ver2 Studio: A Sony Pictures Classics Release (A Richard Linklater Film) – Venture Forth – Castle Rock Entertainment – A Detour Filmrproduction – Faliro House
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Country: USA
Spoken Languages: English – Greek – French

Directed by Richard Linklater. Produced by Richard Linklater, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, and Sara Woodhatch. Written by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke. Characters by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan.

Rated R by the MPAA, for sexual content/nudity and language. Runs 1 hour, 49 minutes. Premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2013; at Tribeca Film Festival on April 22, 2013; and at San Francisco International Film Festival on May 9, 2013. Limited release in the USA on May 24, 2013. Wide release in the USA on June 14, 2013.

Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Also starring Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior, Xenia Kalogeropoulou, Walter Lassally, Ariane Labed, Yiannis Papadopoulos, Athina Rachel Tsangari, and Panos Koronis.

Cinemaniac Reviews three and a half stars

“Before Midnight” gave me the rare chance to understand what is meant by “saving the best for last.” This certainly isn’t the most euphoric piece of the triptych, and if you’re looking for euphoria in this couple, I’d highly suggest stopping after the first two. But one who looks for such joy in director Richard Linklater’s three-part romance is sheerly missing the point.

“Midnight” is a movie that picks at our emotions in ways its predecessors didn’t, but at the same level, sometimes at greater levels. It explores melancholia, which Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) experience at the age of 43. They’re now divorced from their respective spouses, engaged to each other, and with three kids. No longer is life about the two of them and their happiness. It’s now about everyone else’s.

Céline and Jesse have now been fully developed, in a matter of nothing more than conversation. By now, it’s the first film in reverse. He’s gone from a state of self-love to near-selflessness, and she’s gone the opposite. The only difference between “Midnight” and “Sunrise” is that there’s a reason to explain why we feel sorry for Jesse in “Midnight”.

Their natural personalities are probably why Hawke and Delpy seem to be ad libbing the whole thing. They co-wrote the script with director Richard Linklater, but the stressful atmosphere seems to be successfully played by ear. It’s also stronger than ever before, particularly at the end.

The biggest surprise is looking back to “Before Sunrise”, realizing that the romance is so much different than when it began; and to “Before Sunset”, realizing that it’s changed so much from when it picked back up. And in some sense, the two are individually the same as they were in “Sunrise”.

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  1. You already know how I feel about this one, but you’ve written a good review all the same. The only thing with which I would take issue is calling Jesse selfless. But that’s mostly beside the point.

    Because, near the end of your review, you point to why I think it was a mistake seeing this without reference of the first two films.

  2. Good review. One of my favorites of the year, if not my favorite already. It broke me down, beat me up and hit me where it was supposed to.




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