Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★½


Those dread four words: Exactly what I expected. Done very skillfully and with evident passion and sincerity, to be sure...but the overall arc of the series is now awfully familiar, to the point where I could name you not one but two examples where it's executed in reverse order (albeit not over several decades in the actual making—that Delpy and Hawke visibly age each time does boost the poignance factor immensely). Also, while I like the idea of de-isolating Celine and Jesse for a while this time, and fully understand the thematic import of the (shall we say) Greek chorus, those folks were kinda dull in my opinion, and they even made our two lovers temporarily kinda dull. Lengthy hotel-room sequence recovers beautifully, though, and while the general trajectory of the evening is predictable, C&J have become two of the most sharply individualized characters in cinema history, credible at every moment. Paradoxically, Midnight is the most harrowing of the three films, but also far and away the funniest; only a marrow-deep understanding of who these people are, and how they would likely change over the years, makes that tightrope walk possible.

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