Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★★½

After falling deeply in love with the preceding entries in Richard Linklater's Before trilogy, I was kind of unsure what to feel about the fact that there was a third film to accompany these two masterpieces, as I felt that Before Sunset had ended Jesse and Céline's stories with a sense of closure, despite the ambiguity of that ending. With that said, Before Midnight was probably better than I expected, but I still feel that it's the weakest of the three.

Once again, the performances from Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are amazing. Their chemistry is so excellent, that I can still imagine myself listening to whatever they have to say for hours, even if the dialogue at times seems to be a rehash from Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. The fact that we now have to have the idea of them being not only in a relationship, but also being parents, works well in terms of grounding their characters even more, as they have been brought down from their flighty romanticism to the despair of real life. Even if most of their conversations and arguments revolve around their relationship, which has grown stale over time, I could still be emotionally invested in what they wanted from each other, as well as being able to relate to their melancholy of their current lives.

Which brings me to the main reason of why I end up liking this film despite its weaknesses: Before Sunrise had idealized the moment of what could have been in their lives; Before Sunset idealized what should have happened between Jesse and Céline in the time gap between the two films; and finally Before Midnight made me realize that just like Jesse and Céline's relationship, I had idealized what they could and should be in their adult lives. While I'm disappointed at the derivative dialogue and the conflicts between them, that is resolved rather anti-climactically in the end, I probably shouldn't have expected them to be too happy or too cynical about each other with the twists and turns their relationship had taken them. Even if it meant that Céline had become somewhat regressive and one-dimensional, and that the film tended to paint Jesse in a bit too positive light, as he came off to me as a bit too naïve for a man who is not only a father to three children, but also a man in his forties. It just that their dialogue didn't come off as naturally this time as it did before, as I found the drama to be a bit too contrived at times.

In conclusion, Before Midnight has its issues, but it spun me around every conceivable emotion that I think it could evoke in me that I can't help but admire it. It might not be as strong as the two films before it, but it is a welcome addition that does spark some hope amidst the chaotic relationship that Jesse and Céline have endured over the years.

Patrick liked these reviews