Saturday, November 16, 2013

Richard Linklater's Ode to Love, Time, and Change: Before Midnight.

Movie Review: Before Midnight

Director: Richard Linklater

Reviewed: 9 November 2013

jamesintexas rating--***1/2

Before Midnight, Richard Linklater's third film, continues to track lovers Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) every nine years and finds the pair in the south of Greece with their two daughters, sending Jesse's son back to Chicago after a summer vacation. On an artist's vacation, Jesse and Celine take to the countryside for a long, meandering walk when friends agree to babysit for the night as well as renting them a hotel room. The couple explores and negotiates their own relationship and the time that has passed in honest, surprisingly raw ways, and Linklater stays with the couple even through the most uncomfortable moments. A seemingly romantic build-up is undercut by the answering of a phone call; a  long dormant conflict from the past returns; questions of fidelity abound. Celine wonders about the sacrifices that she has had to make to be a parent. Jesse considers moving his family to Chicago to be more of a presence in his family's life. An argument in a hotel room never ends, taking on an epic, otherworldly quality. Films never show this window into adults behaving this way. Part of the format of the film is a change from the previous two. Part of the fun is filling in the gaps in what we have missed in their relationship. The stakes seem plausibly real: the couple negotiates what it means to remain in love in middle-age. I found the final scene quite touching, and I think that Linklater has triumphed in making a film about adults for adults. I think that Hawke and Delpy will be known forever for these roles, and I think that Linklater's cinematic experiment has proven wildly successful.  Here's to another nine years of waiting to see what is in store for this couple.

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