Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★½

“Then I fell in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other's eyes.
We were so very much in love.
Then one day, he went away. And I thought I'd die -- but I didn't.
And when I didn't I said to myself, "Is that all there is to love?"”

I knew my Before Sunset fantasy wouldn’t last. I also know to hold such a fantasy was unrealistic. It seems it was time for Mr. Linklater to get realistic.

The joy, no rapture, that Linklater’s first two installments brought me was because of love. At first, the sweet and tender beginning moments. Moments that will be forever seared in your memory. Next came the guarded moments; measured, but still full of love and longing. The precipice of commitment. In both films we were in Jesse and Celine’s world, and their world alone. Sure, they were in a world filled with people, but we could only see them.

My first problem with Before Midnight was now we were seeing Jesse and Celine objectively. They were in the world. This eliminated the intimacy. It didn’t help that the ‘writers retreat’ was filled with pompous dialogue and characters that immediately reminded me of Pauline at the Beach and Barbarian Invasion; two films that I loathe.

When Celine and Jesse then took their walk, their conversation didn’t sound anything like couple in their early forties. It was a weird mixture of throwback with current. I’ve already lived through my forties, as Linklater has, and Hawke and Delpy are now. I can’t believe any of them thought this authentic to the characters and this chapter of life.

My most bitter disappointment, though, was the third act. Here is where I think Linklater completely betrayed the spirit and theme of his first two wonderful films. He takes the easy, melodramatic, way out. A bickering couple filled with nastiness. Something you’d see in a third rate TV drama. In Sunrise, Celine and Jesse spoke at each other .. they were nervous. I remember being that way too. In Sunset, they began to speak to each other. They’ve matured, they begin to listen. Here, there is nothing of that, no progression, not even a hint of what was there before. No hint of understanding each other. Not even attempts at it. I think Celine got the short end of the stick, as she’s just a crazy, unreasonable, demanding, high maintenance bitch. Jesse doesn’t come off much better as an unfaithful, lying, pretentious oaf. The two of these entitled brats embroiled in First World Problems. And how is their tragic mid-life crisis resolved? A promise of good sex.

” Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is”

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