Before Midnight

before midnight

Scenes from a Marriage

So now I get to blog about a second movie by one of my favorite directors, Richard Linklater (here’s the first (  For those unfamiliar with this talky trilogy, in Before Sunrise Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet on a train in Europe and spend the day together.  In Before Sunset they reunite years later and Jesse debates whether to leave his wife and child for Celine.  Before Midnight again fasts forwards some years, and now Jesse and Celine are together living in Europe, have children, and are on vacation in Greece.  In my opinion, Before Midnight is easily the best film of the series.  Here’s why.

As the great film columnist A.O. Scott notes in the New York Times, (  there is a reason why most romantic films end when the marriage begins.  After boy gets girls, what’s to watch?  Anyone who has been married for a long time knows that marriage isn’t glamorous.  Often, it is petty and mundane.  Before Midnight exposes the long slog.

As with Before Sunset, Hawke, Delpy and Linklater wrote the screenplay.  They were nominated for an Academy Award for Before Sunset and I hope they are nominated again since the writing is fantastic.  The Greek setting is idyllic.  Both Delpy and Hawke are tremendous  The directing style is patient.  Most of the movie consists of long takes of Jesse and Celine talking.  Other movies are chock full of fast takes, numerous characters, and lots of action.  Before Sunset respects its characters and its audience.

Jesse and Celine each have long-standing issues.  He feels guilty that he seldom sees his son from his first marriage and she feel conflicted about her career and resentful about having to do most of the childrearing.  As the layers of their marriage are peeled back, we go from friendly flirtation to full-on war.  Although this is not an enjoyable film to watch, it is a worthwhile film, and it made me think about marriage in general, and my marriage in particular.  Rare is the film that induces this kind of introspection.  Bravo to Linklater, Delpy and Hawke.

Rating:  **** (out of ****)


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