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I just saw this amazing movie at its Sundance premiere. It's wonderful
on so many levels I don't know where to start. The performances are
fantastic. If Julie Delpy doesn't get an Oscar nomination it would be a
shame (the only stupider thing the Academy could do is have 10 best
picture nominations.) Ethan Hawke's performance is brilliant in its own
way, however, it's a less showy part and I'm not certain it'll get the
recognition it deserves.
The writing is astounding. Sharp, intelligent, biting, humorous, with staggering subtext, but most importantly--it feels real. If the screenplay doesn't get an Oscar nomination it would be a shame (the only thing stupider the Academy could do is have 15 best picture nominations.)
Rick Linklater is now officially the Jedi master of indie filmmaking (Yoda Soderbergh actually said he's giving up filmmaking.) SLACKERS was only 22 years ago, and Linklater has matured into one of the most original filmic storytellers in the history of the medium. 95% of the movie is two-shots of people talking (the other 5% is people talking at a dinner table and cut aways to the gorgeous Greek landscape.) I don't know any other living filmmaker who could pull this off. There's a one-take during a car drive that lasts probably ten minutes (before a brief cut away), however, it goes on for probably another ten minutes (and Linklater said he could have kept the whole take, but needed to show ruins along the country side and cut away for script purposes, not performance.) There's a 30 minute scene of the two actors in a hotel room and I didn't even notice it (by that time I was so invested in the characters and their actions and emotions I wasn't even aware of time, it wasn't until the post screening Q&A that Linklater mentioned the actual time of the scene.)
All three, Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke have matured into their rolls (writing, directing, acting) so easily that it's all just great fun for them and the audience. This is a must see for many reasons (including the history of film--there's only one other modern trilogy where the final film is the best--LOTR, and their food budget was probably more than the total cost of BEFORE MIDNIGHT.)
i could go on gushing about this movie ad nauseum, however I'll finish by saying that BEFORE MIDNIGHT is what indie film making (and the Sundance Film Festival) is all about--truly original, creative, unique, interesting characters and their stories, told outside the Hollywood system, by people passionate about their craft (and in this case at the top of their craft).
Before Midnight is a different type of animal this time around. I
didn't expect the team could top an already beautiful story but what
they achieve in the newest installment is the most accurate and
authentic portrayals of love since Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of
the Spotless Mind (2004). The film is an absolute marvel, showcasing
the very best dialogue and capturing the sheer essence of acting
brilliance from stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Director Richard
Linklater has also created the crowning work of his directorial career,
showing incredible restraint and focus on two characters that still
feel just as new and fresh as the day we met them. The film opens with
a near fifteen minute take that gets its hook into you and never lets
up. It's a cinematic sensation.
Midnight takes place nine years after the events of Sunset. Jesse and Céline are still together and have managed to have twin girls, Nina and Ella, and are living in Europe. The film takes place at the tail end of a six-week vacation in Greece where Jesse has just dropped off his thirteen-year-old son Hank, from his previous marriage, at the airport for his return back to Chicago. Realizing that he's missing the formative years of Hank's teenage life, Jesse and Céline explore the option of possibly making a move to America, leaving opportunities and a life in Europe behind.
This film is easily the best film of the franchise so far. Packing an emotional and euphoric punch like third-installments like Toy Story 3 (2010) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), films that have a close-nit relation to their predecessors but saving all the masterful speeches and epiphanies for the viewer to indulge in their finales. Obviously there's no big fantasy battle or a near death experience in an incinerator for the meaning of life to be physically explained but in the power of words, and words alone, Before Midnight manages to become the poster child for screen writing and brilliant storytelling for years to come. The film doesn't take any cheap shots with every scene constructed from real emotion and feeling incredibly authentic and genuine. There are long takes for the viewer to be present whether it's in an airport conversation between Jesse and Hank or at a lunch with in the beautiful valleys of Greece or even in a hotel room where a man and a woman share intimacy like older lovers typically do.
Ethan Hawke is an actor that never quite caught onto the awards circuit for some odd reason. Nominated for his performance alongside Denzel Washington in Training Day (2001), Hawke has shown tremendous range throughout his career including missed opportunities for recognition in Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007). As Jesse this time around, Hawke uses every ounce of magnetism, charisma, and acting ability to bring himself to the levels of legendary actors like Daniel Day-Lewis and Marlon Brando. He becomes a man all too familiar to the male viewer and ignites the film into a spectacular frenzy of passion. Hawke isn't afraid to show the inner turmoil of Jesse as the growing cancer of guilt has come to the surface. He works moment after moment in expressing the bewildering beauty of love at the expense of one's own values and sacrifice. He's almost the distant, and utterly toned down, cousin of Freddie Quell from Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (2012), a man so complex but inserted with terrific character beats and an actor willing to commit entirely to the craft to portray him flawlessly. Hawke surpasses not only his past features but the very being of himself as an actor. It's his finest turn yet.
Julie Delpy is as imaginative and magnetic as ever. She's a wonderful presence, often very skillful example of acting on the finest level. She executes the pure feelings of uncertainty in conjuncture with the script which is a clear and marvelous character study on love. She's wildly immersed into Céline, accomplishing not only a somewhat free- spirited damaged woman but a sex appeal that triggers any person's romantic desires. She's an effortless existence in the film, which makes Céline not only explicitly real, but tenderly and mysteriously loving for the viewer. It's a performance that defines her abilities as an actress and one that will be remembered fifty years from now as we all think back on the amazement of Julie Delpy.
The film is breathtakingly accurate and precise in capturing the love and relationship of couples, it will and should be studied by film schools and writers for years to come. Linklater bares his soul, frame after frame, showing confidence of his own idiosyncratic vision of this story and being as accessible to even the youngest of people. This is Linklater's most personal tribute to the scope of cinema and will be his defining moment on the silver screen. The film is a must-see and is the first masterpiece that 2013 has to offer. Before Midnight is an instant Oscar-contender and a triumph in filmmaking. It's the go-to film of the Tribeca Film Festival and the best picture of the year so far.
I was lucky enough to get tickets for the one of the Before Midnight-
screenings at the Berlin Film Festival this year.
Being a big fan of both Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, I was truly thrilled to see this new (last?) chapter of Jesse and Celine's relationship.
To sum up the story shortly without spoiling too much, we meet Jesse and Celine 9 years after the events of Sunset. They are now a couple with a pair of twin daughters, and Jesse is struggling to adapt to the role of being a separated father for his son, Hank, having him fly several times back and forth between the United States and France, where Jesse lives with Celine and the daughters. On the last day of their vacation in Greece, Jesse and Celine are trying to find the spark in their relationship again - we are dealing with a couple, like so many others, who in their 'middleage crisis' start asking themselves "where am I in my life, why do I live it this way, and does my husband/wife still love me?".
For me, the relevance of the film, is its force, along with of course the acting and the script, which Hawke and Delpy again have written together with Linklater. Hawke and Delpy are so much into their characters and you feel how deep their relationship is established - it feels very natural and just like watching a couple in the 21st century. We live in a world where couple's separate, find a new partner, get children, separates again, find a new partner, get new children again (maybe this is a bit extreme, but something like that). Both the husband and wife have jobs and their relationships are affected when suddenly, the only things they are dealing with his who gets the groceries, who picks up the children from the kindergarten etc., and the love and romance between one another slowly fades away. That's the relevance to the age we live in now, that is so strong in Midnight.
I can highly recommend fans of the two first movies to see it, and if you are not familiar with the movies, you are certainly in for a treat! In my eyes, Midnight works very well for as an end to a trilogy, but the door is of course a little open for another sequel 9 years in the future (2022...?)
Again, the acting is superb (the entire hotel scene is magnificent!), and dialog is so grounded, natural and strong and the film has relevance and could inspire a lot of couples struggling with their relationship to their partner.
I just saw Richard Linklater's Before Midnight his newest and third
film about Jesse and Celine the couple who meet as young adults in
Before Sunrise and re-meet as adults in Before Sunset (one of my five
This is simply brilliant film making: funny, raw, emotionally honest and complicated. The couple (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy who both co-wrote with Linklater) are now in their 40s and face some very real challenges to their menage. I started laughing and crying within about 3 minutes and both emotions kept up until the very end. Everyone sat through the credits so they could wipe their faces clean. Brilliant acting . . .
This film gives one hope for the state of American film making and reminds you that Linklater is one of our most underrated auteurs. I sincerely hope he continues and I live long enough to see the couple well into their senior years.
Even if you have never seen the first two movies, do not miss this one.
First and foremost, this is not your typical mainstream summer movie.
However, if you're reading this, then I'm sure you've already seen the
two preceding films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. If you have,
then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. This movie is driven
by the characters and their dialog. No fancy special effects, no
elaborate sets, no uber-popular actors to stuff in the movie to make
people watch it. Just great dialog from two excellent actors.
Now that that's out of the way, I was a little uninterested when hearing about this movie, that it was filmed in Greece. However, after seeing the film tonight, I find that the setting was quite lovely and really had little to do with the movie itself. The movie was more about how these two main characters are dealing with getting older and being parents, and how over time, your opinions about things and about each other can change.
One thing I've always liked about these movies is the gritty realism of the two characters. Being an American myself, and previously having a French girlfriend (and living in France), I can totally relate to the two characters and the idiosyncrasies that are attributed to both of them in this story of their lives.
This movie was, once again, a model example of good dialog and great characters! I was very happy to see this movie, and I'm glad to see the writers haven't lost their touch. This movie was written by not only the director, but also the two main actors, and this series is really their "baby" - you can tell much love and care went into these films, even though they are all shot very quickly and with a small budget. I love how there are very few cuts in most of the scenes, and you can tell that everything about this movie was simple. This is a true breath of fresh air in time full of poorly-written movies and cheap special effects.
I enjoyed Before Sunrise when I first saw it, and thought it was a
clever, charming movie with an innovative approach. In my opinion
though, Before Sunrise was vastly elevated by being paired with Before
Sunset 9 years later.
Before Sunset is an exceptional movie, much more melancholic than its predecessor, but understandably so because the characters had grown up and had to let go of childish notions of fairytale happy ever afters. What makes Before Sunset so wonderful though is the notion throughout that even though things went wrong it's never too late to fix them.
Before Midnight is a different film to the previous two. In my opinion it is about two people who, having made the mistake of losing contact the first time, will work to make sure it never happens again. They were never going to have a fairytale life because they are both very complicated, and I liked the realism of how their relationship developed as they got older.
I strongly disagree with other reviewers who say that Before Midnight can be watched without seeing the previous two. I criticised people who did that for Before Sunset and would caution against it even more for this one. Before Midnight relies on the idea that the audience understands how complicated the characters are and therefore continues to like them even when they do things which could seem nasty and shallow.
In summary, while my favourite of the three movies remains Before Sunset, Before Midnight adds richly to the overarching story that has been told, in real time over 18 years, of two characters that fans of the series have grown to love. As a three part series, the Before movies are practically perfect.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can consider myself a fan of the before series of films, I saw Before
Sunrise years before the sequel came out and hipsters started jumping
on the band wagon of this film. To explain why before midnight fails I
need to explain the film from the perspective of both Before Sunrise
and Before Sunset.
Now Before Sunrise was a slightly flawed yet still really captivating and original film about two people who randomly by chance meet in Europe, Jesse the American and Celine the french girl. They walk around together for a day until dawn and then Jesse must catch his plane back to America and thats it the end, they agree to meet up again a year later but as we find out in Before Sunset that falls apart.
Now Before Sunrise is cute because they are both supposed to be 23 in the film and its OK for 23 year olds to have stupid ideas or be overly dramatic because hey they are young and thats how it works. In Before Sunrise the cracks started to show, the film still held up but the plot began to meander into strange directions, first off when they meet up again they still decide to be "cutesy" around each other which is a little odd for people in their thirties to be that way. But the cuteness of the situation is allowed as they haven't seen each other in a long time, also the weakness of Before Sunset exists because get this Jesse writes an acclaimed book to get Celine back and the book is about how they both met.
The concept of Jesse as an author is weak because it is very apparent that the guy is kind of stupid and a goof, there is never any indication of depth or being an articulate human being. The other thing is in Before Sunset you get the feeling these two should not be together, they are different and Celine gets annoyed by Jesse but that of course is all very slight. The "celine getting annoyed by Jesse" plot line takes the front and center part of the stage in Before Midnight.
Really this should have just been two movies, I truly believe that. In part one they separate at the end and in part two they get back together and stay together and just leave it at that. Before Midnight first off doesn't function quite well because of this fact, Jesse and Celine still have stupid cheap back and forth banter between each other except that doesn't make sense because now they aren't 23 and they definitely haven't gone a long time without seeing each other so they are 40 somethings who argue about nothingness.
During the first segment of the movie, Jesse and Celine driving back from the airport with their daughters in the back, Celine gives Jesse a hard time about eating one of their daughters apples but in a way a 14 year old would taunt another 14 year old not the way a couple in a long term relationship would act. There are many examples of that and thus begins a two hour long film filled with Celine's passive aggressive and aggressive aggressive attitude towards Jesse.
You get the feeling Celine truly and genuinely hates every aspect of her life, she is with a guy that she thinks is dumb, she has two kids when she never wanted any kids, her environmental job always results in failures and having to work with idiots shes annoyed by every aspect of her existence and its truly miserable to have to watch her. There's nothing entertaining or charming about Celine, she is simply very very bitter at Jesse for "ruining" her life by getting involved with her.
Now the argument here is "well this is reality" OK watching paint dry is also an element of reality it doesn't mean I want to go to a movie theater and experience it. This film is different there's none of that whimsical carefree attitude that exists in the first two movies. The few brief moments of entertainment come from Celine not being around, Jesse has some conversations early on with some author who invited him out to Greece to stay with him.
Also when Jesse and Celine arrive at the hotel the owner of the hotel asks Jesse to sign a copy of the books he has written then begs Celine to sign them which she refuses because being angry and bitter is all she knows how to be in this film. Finally Jesse pressures her into signing them, but shes angry as always. Also twice Celine is on the phone with Jesse's son and then hangs up before he has a chance to chat with him, which is actually pretty rude.
This was such a garbage movie, an utter waste of time and talent, although probably not that much of a waste of time for those who made it I am sure they shot it and scripted it in about 5 days. The critics have all praised this movie but they only praise things that are different, and sitting and listening to two people argue incessantly on screen for 2 hours is certainly different but also stupid.
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
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.
Despite what idealized viewers might think when it comes to their
beloved romance films there are numerous events and circumstances that
can occur outside the frame that could strengthen, fracture, or
challenge that particular relationship beyond the assumed happily ever
after conclusion. This idea behind continued uncertainty is essentially
called life and though the realist perspective might damage some
optimist hopes there is a genuine beauty to the wonderful truth that is
a relationship that cultivates or fissures in the face life's
challenges. Eclectic filmmaker Richard Linklater, known for such
diverse films such as his debut indie feature Slacker and his wide
appeal comedy School of Rock, understood the idea of life beyond the
ending credits once he reintroduced his two romantic leads Jesse (Ethan
Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) with a chance encounter in Before
Sunset after their initial meeting nine years earlier in Before
Sunrise. Before Midnight, the latest chapter of this ingenious film
series, offers the creative staples that the romantic saga is known for
with Linklater's consistently delicate observational style, Hawke and
Delpy's engaged performances, philosophical witty banter relating to
relationships, life, and more but this time unfolding the details of a
relationship that has marinated beyond its initial romantic beginnings
and changed into something far more palpable, strained, and relatable.
The collaborative writing between Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy
demonstrates their immense understanding of their created characters
and deliver their most uncomfortably emotional and richly
life-affirming vignette in this particular reflective road stop in the
lives of Jesse and Celine. When poet John Keats wrote the famous last
line "truth is beauty, beauty truth" in his poem "An Ode to a Grecian
Urn" he realized that even the most unpleasant truths had intense
beauty in its mere recognized existence and the Before saga is one of
the purest cinematic exercises in revealing that kind of beautiful
truth. Before Midnight takes the initially romantic setups in Before
Sunrise and Before Sunset and expands them into their most logical and
equally emotional prolongation where it expands the narrative strength,
character vivacity, and philosophical importance of the series into a
fully realized and painfully heartfelt whole that speaks uncomfortable
truths in an engagingly entertaining way.
Read more: http://wp.me/py8op-yV; more reviews: generationfilm.net
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before Midnight is something better erased from the memory. As a fan of
Sunrise and Sunset (the latter upon viewing it several times), it was
hard to swallow what was served in Midnight.
Delpy and Hawke are both good actors, and they have returned to their respective roles well, but why has Celine turned into a bitter old woman, and Jesse into a selfish ass? They both displayed the seeds of these traits in Sunset, but in Midnight, all redeeming features have been deleted.
Both characters could have walked out of a bad American sit-com. Enter a frustrated artist wife, who worries incessantly about her body and mothering skills, and is unfulfilled in numerous ways. Then add a guilt-ridden run-away father who talks like a teenager and acts supercilious in arguments. It's hard to like either of them, but you end up siding with Jesse, because Celine has become so hard as to be unbearable.
The scenes in which Celine plays the bimbo, ostensibly to attract Jesse, are cringe-worthy. The final scene therefore deals a death blow to the series. The Celine of Sunrise and Sunset would never have dumbed herself down to be found attractive, probably not even in jest. She is out of love with Jesse completely, and it would have been more honest for her to suggest a permanent separation! Jesse on his part seems largely contemptuous of Celine, making numerous remarks about how he puts up with her, as if he's the only person in the world who could love her, and as if he has no qualities that might make him irksome at times.
Content-wise, the conversations in this latest 'Before' film are of much lower quality. Gone are the deep revelations of inner truths, the pretentious thoughts of youth, and in its place are platitudes and sex jokes, with a great deal of sexism added. It's like Before meets American Pie, and it hurts.
Better it is to imagine Jesse and Celine had a one night stand in Vienna, and a short fling in Paris, for Jesse to return to his son in the US.
Linklater, here's a deal: I'll forget all about Midnight, and you'll stop murdering this series.
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