Friday, June 7, 2013

Before Midnight

18 years ago a talky romance called 'Before Sunrise' was released with minimal reception.  Directed by Richard Linklater and starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, with a modest budget of only $2.5M, it was very low concept.  A twenty-something guy meets a twenty-something girl on a train in Europe, they hit it off and he tries to convince her to spend the day with him in Vienna.  Consisting almost entirely of dialogue between them, it more closely resembles a play than a film.  Though, despite its low concept it is extremely engaging due to its two stars and the quality of their dialogue.  And so this little film found a cult audience on home video and spawned a sequel nine years later called 'Before Sunset' which picks up where these same two characters are nine years later.  And though it is rare, this sequel is perhaps better than the original.  And now, nine years after that, we have been blessed with a third installment, showing us where these two are in their 40's.  And once again, miraculously, this sequel is arguably the best so far.

Just like the last sequel, this one just feels right where we find our characters nine years after the last time we saw them.  Unlike all those phony big budget studio films (yes I am thinking of 'The Internship'), these films just feel honest.  Jesse and Celine (played by Hawke and Delpy, respectively) feel like real, complex characters who are probably soul mates but always having difficulty being together.  And by now, Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy have known each other so long that these characters have become an extension of them, allowing them to make the films and characters pitch perfect in every way.  But they never take short cuts.  In fact, many of the takes in this third film are extremely long, with no cuts, and incredibly verbose, making them extraordinarily difficult to get just right.  And yet they are.

I love these movies.  And this one is a must see for fans of the series, lovers of great plays, appreciators of great acting and great dialogue, and anyone who wants to see an honest romance in all its ugliness, rather than that fairy tale bull#$@! that Hollywood shovels us all year long.

Grade: A+

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