Synopsis: We meet Jesse and Celine nine years on in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on that train bound for Vienna.
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Director: Richard Linklater
Running Length: 109 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: Well here we are…20 years after Before Sunrise was released and 9 years after its sequel added a new chapter to the story of Jesse and Celine. Though Before Sunrise ended with no real plans for a sequel, the final moments of Before Sunset could be seen as having more room to continue the story should stars Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and director Richard Linklater (Bernie) want to return down the road. Turns out that the supposed final chapter was a decade away…and worth the wait.
The two that first met on a train and spent a night in Vienna only to meet up again in Paris are now married with twin girls. Vacationing in Greece, the film opens as Hawke (The Purge, Sinister) takes his young son from his first marriage to the airport, sending him home to NYC and his mother after a summer with his dad. Waiting outside is Celine (Delpy) and the film really kicks into gear on the ride home from the airport in a masterful scene done in nearly one long take capturing a conversation between Jesse and Celine.
By now, Delpy and Hawke must have formed an invisible bond that allows dialogue to flow without any hesitation. Though the dialogue and filming technique may suggest the script was improvised, it’s been said that the opposite was true. Delpy, Hawke, and Linklater were strict with what they wrote and held each other accountable for the dialogue. You’d never know it the way Delpy and Hawke deliver their lines…like two people having a conversation in the most naturalistic of styles.
Though I was worried that more secondary characters than ever are introduced in the first half of the film, I was pleased that their presence gave way to such focused dialogue on marriage, love, and relationships. In different hands the words may have sounded grandiose and lugubrious, more interested in making people sound smart instead of honest…but it all works in a really majestic sort of way.
Unlike the awful This is 40, Before Midnight is able to show the complexities of marriage in a truthful and observant manner. Jesse and Celine find themselves at a believable crossroads about their future and how Delpy, Hawke, and Linklater work their way toward a final painfully honest and brilliantly executed scene should be richly rewarded. You rarely get the kind of satisfaction from an ongoing series as you do in Before Midnight.
I watched all three of the Before films in one sitting and I have to say…I highly recommend it. It’s interesting that Hawke mentions in Before Sunrise what life may be like in 10, 20, years…and then to actually see the actors 10, 20 years later is remarkable. A fitting conclusion to the story of Jesse and Celine…at least until the next film which I hope comes our way in another 10 years.