‘Before Midnight’: Love on the rocks

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Before Midnight (2013)

Directed by Richard Linklater

Jesse and Celine, meet Life. That’s essentially the plot of “Before Midnight,” the third in Richard Linklater’s exciting and delightful franchise that lets us revisit Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s characters every 9 years to see what life has in store for them.

Now, they have kids. They live in Paris, but we see them on vacation in Greece, as they stay with a famous writer on Jesse’s sabbatical. But the past 9 years have had their share of hardships. Celine feels like her flourishing career has taken a backseat to Jesse’s books and to their children. Jesse doesn’t feel the same way. As they leave their children with a sitter and try to rebuild their relationship by spending the night in a beautiful Grecian hotel, 9 years of dirty laundry will be aired out in a tell-all two hours of heartache and tragedy.

Before Midnight

Life gets in the way sometimes. “Before Midnight” isn’t full of fantasy romance like “Sunrise” and “Sunset.” It’s not all idealistic, Romantic (big R and small r) ramblings. Here, we see real, contentious arguments about men and women, life and death, love and hate. We see strife, baggage. Jesse and Celine have left the honeymoon phase. After all, it’s been 9 years since “Sunset” left them in Celine’s Paris apartment.

“Midnight” offers a bit more of the beautiful European scenery and even a few minor characters with more screen time, and it doesn’t follow the same real-time approach that the first two did. It became more typical of other romance movies in that regard. But we still get 20-minute stretches of nothing but dialogue, and the script (again Oscar-nominated, and again written by Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy) offers the same insights we’ve gotten used to. Delpy even got herself a Golden Globe nomination, the only major acting nomination for the franchise.

before-midnight

Here’s to hoping 2022 brings about the next visitation (“Before Noon,” “Before Tomorrow”) in this inventive romantic franchise, because I have a good feeling Hawke and Delpy have yet to hit their peak. Maybe even another in 2031 or a fifth in 2040? By that time, the two stars will only be in their early 60s, then their early 70s. Hey, it’s possible.

8/10

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