Film Review: Before Midnight
Directed by Richard Linklater
Written by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy
Director of photography by Christos Voudouris
Editing by Sandra Adair
Music Supervision by Graham Reynolds
Set design by Anna Georgiadou
Produced by Richard Linklater, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos and Sara Woodhatch
Distribution by Sony Pictures Classics.
Running time: 1 hour 48 minutes.
Principle Casting: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior, Ariane Labed, Athina Rachel Tsangari and Xenia Kalogeropoulou
Tweetable Review: Linklater’s Before Midnight proves that great things come to those who wait. Can’t it be 2022 already?
In Before Sunrise, audiences were treated to a triumph of promising nature before a turn in Before Sunset‘s lyrical address to regret. With the previous road so well paved, how then can a new installment nine years in the making bring even more insight into a relationship that seems pretty well crafted to begin with? Relying heavily on rich character, strong writing and naturalistic improvisation Richard Linklater has crafted one of the most well-known and widely loved movie romances in modern cinema, and to say the latest in the series – Before Midnight could be considered not only the strongest but the most in-depth outing yet is bold, but the film has the goods to back it up.
Our story picks up with Jesse (Ethan Hawke), a successful novelist who is experiencing his last few days retreating in Greece at a writer’s retreat, staying in the bucolic country villa of an older expat writer, Patrick (Walter Lassally). Jesse’s given to flights of creative fancy which charm the assembled company, warmly hospitable Greek couples, but Celine (Julie Delpy)—whose own past has played a starring role in Jesse’s semi-autobiographical novels—is perhaps a bit weary of serving as alluring French muse to Jesse’s fiction career. As a treat, their Greek friends have gifted Jesse and Celine with a night at a luxurious seaside hotel while they babysit the twins. Feeling the undercurrent of friction between them, Celine wants to bow out for the evening, but their friends insist. What does a longterm couple do in a sleek hotel room besides throw off their worries, responsibilities, and clothes and make love? But for Jesse and Celine, realities intrude: the weight of children, work, ambitions, disappointments; the ebb and flow of romantic love; the strains of an evolving, deepening relationship. Their idyllic night tests them in unexpected ways.
Overall, Linklater has once again done a marvelous job on capturing time, place and character in Before Midnight. The story structure will be no surprise to anyone who has seen the previous two films – we get alot of walking and talking, sitting and talking and, oh yea, more talking. However, unlike the bittersweet story of a young love in Before Sunrise or the pay off of a contentment filled ending of Before Sunset, Before Midnight throws caution to the wind and gives a darker and more ominous toned story arch that is poignant to the story of our beloved characters. Together, Hawke and Delpy impressively show the heart and soul of the intimacies of a true relationship by combining the successes, failures and glances that come with such a well defined bond; I could write an entire column on the nuances that both actors have brought to these memorable characters, but to put it simply, both are wonderful – end of story.
Audiences have gotten to know Celine and Jesse over time and to end that story after only 3 chapters would be the easy route, so what will the future be for our characters – only Linklater, Hawke and Deply really know…or maybe they still don’t. Regardless, the Before cycle has gotten its reputation as being another great romantic epic of a defined wave of popularity that is perpetually discontent. It’s with this unsettling that Before Midnight takes the lead in this series of films and proves that there are still more questions than answers for Celine and Jesse; after 3 films, this uncertainty should be seen as something incredibly comforting. Linklater balances a fine sensibility and improvisation-ally headstrong direction, while talents in Hawke and Deply are spot on and fully-embodied. Before Midnight‘s beautiful countrysides and lovely sunsets of the Grecian seacoast are impressive on both the small screen and large, so the question shouldn’t ever be Theater or VOD – what’s more important is how many times you can see it anywhere it happens to be playing.
– Please note this is a partial review, please click HERE to read full review at Fresh Roasted Films
~ Matt Miles, 24/7 Contributor
Producer of Fresh Roasted Films
Trackback from your site.