It has been nine years since we last met Jesse and Celine, the French-American couple who once met on a train in Vienna. They now live in Paris with twin daughters, but have spent a summer in Greece on the invitation of an author colleague of Jesse's. When the vacation is over and Jesse must send his teenage son off to the States, he begins to question his life decisions, and his relationship with Celine is at risk. Written by
Peter Brandt Nielsen
Two Hours of Talk, Talk, Talk... and Absolutely Enthralling...
The 56th San Francisco International came to a close at the magnificent Castro Theatre with a showing of Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight", the third in Linklater's series of "Before " films. Preceded by "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset", the film continues the story of Jesse and Celine, now a middle-aged, two child couple on vacation in Greece. Things are not quite right between the two, and there is much to be said between them. So they talk. For two hours. And it is absolutely enthralling.
I have to admit that I haven't seen the first two films. I was aware of them, but they just never jumped out at me as something I had to see. I admire Linklater's work ( I thought last year's "Bernie" was one of the best films of the year) but just never had a reason to put seeing those films above others I had more interest in. I attended the screening mainly because it was the closing night film, but had concerns that not having seen the previous two would put me at a disadvantage in appreciating his latest. Festival friend (and "Before " series lover) Stacy McCarthy assured me the film stands on its own.
She was right. Nothing much goes on in this film but conversations between people, but these conversations are fascinating and have a sense of reality about them often missing from films of this nature. Credit for that obviously goes to director Linklater and actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who collaborated on the script. It doesn't hurt that the film was shot in Greece, but the picturesque beauty of that country comes second to the riveting portrayal of a couple at the stage of life where the often painful questioning of a couple's future begins.
Two hours with these characters flew by, and as the credits rolled my first thoughts were about how much I really liked the film, and how I need to think more "out of the box" when it comes to selecting films to view. I'm guilty of often limiting my scope, and I'm thankful that Film Festivals force me to widen my film horizons.
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