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Before Midnight (2013)
Circle Of Love
Conversation movies need substance more than anything. If you're going to listen to people talk for about two hours, they should have something interesting to say. Richard Linklater knows that. His subjects are relevant and there is always a valid point behind his film's reflections. His insight comes from an honest, caring interest about life and love, and he delivers it in a subtle, truthful and intelligent way.
Before Midnight, being his most flawed conversation film, is still not an exception in that aspect. It deals with something as relevant as the downfall of love, in a way that defies years and years of Hollywood propaganda about soulmates, half oranges and unrealistic partner expectations. I thank him for that.
Evasion movies can be entertaining, but they never tell what happens years after the couple walks into the sunset, Linklater does. Relationships too often fall into poisonous dynamics which seem more unavoidable the more nonsense and bs they are; resentment can accumulate for years; selfishness is always on the menu and the way you perceive your significant other can blur so much that you'll wonder who the hell is that person and why are you together in the first place.
My humble interpretation is that ¨true¨ in ¨true love¨ means real, as in The Matrix. It's happening, it's true, along with the poisonous habits come reconciliation routines, familiarity and care. You can either stay in that relentless circle of love or you can try on your own, and maybe find yet another circle.
In Before Midnight, Linklater best accomplishment is to inspire all of that reasoning with a film riddled with flaws, that feels as tired of itself as the couple, as if it was a due paper work you must fill in order to go on with your life, something unpleasant that has to be done rather than delaying it any more. Characters lack layers, their personality malfunctions are hideously exaggerated and their reactions are way too much forced, again, as if the movie itself wanted to get it over with.
As in love, it's your choice what part of the circle you want to stay with.
Be A Man
One-location films are a challenge for screenwriters. Other aspects of film- making are so conditioned that there isn't really much you can do. You might throw some transitions shots now and then or get crafty with the editing but not much more. The acting, though, is crucial as the number of characters is limited, but no actor could lift a poor script in these conditions. This kind of films are all about screen writing. Limiting the characters freedom of movement to the extreme while keeping the action thrilling, the tension growing and the characters engaging is definitely a risky experiment, but for that same reason, appealing, tempting and worth giving it a shot.
Steven Knight has succeed at writing one, and then was lucky enough to have Tom Hardy rising up to the occasion and make the whole thing shine.
The drive to London is thrilling and as I watched I found myself more than once ¨in distress¨, as you hear the main character Ivan Locke say more than often. There's enough going on to keep the audience engaged, in fact, there is so much going on that Locke's charisma comes precisely from his ability to handle it the way he does. Familiar and work issues arise at once from one single decision that pushes him to drive through the night while managing it all with only the help of a phone and colossal patience and composure.
Ivan Locke stays solid, but perfectly human. His motivations, his strength, his reasoning are all well explained, both efficiently and beautifully, and the phone calls follow without losing the rhythm at any point. The film manages to get your mind in and out of the car at will, while keeping events flowing and characters growing, and all is backed up by a very interesting dilemma.
The plot is solid. Tom Hardy is flawless.