Before Midnight (2013)
Critic Consensus: Building on the first two installments in Richard Linklater's well-crafted Before trilogy, Before Midnight offers intelligent, powerfully acted perspectives on love, marriage, and long-term commitment.
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Critic Reviews for Before Midnight
This is a universal X-ray of bourgeois love, one that in a few decades will get around to something like Amour.
So much better written than contemporary novels, this film is a literary as well as cinematic achievement to cherish. For grown-ups.
By the end, Before Midnight inches towards a dawn of charm. But it's a troubled trip.
As an organic experiment in collaboration between actors and director, it is a triumph, co-created and co-owned by Delpy, Linklater and Hawke.
Audience Reviews for Before Midnight
It is immensely refreshing to see again these two characters who we once (twice) learned to love, now in a story that examines with utmost honest the natural conflicts of married life - which are also present for this couple who seemed so suited for a happy ending together.
This is the most depressing, and definitely most realistic portrayal of romance, of the Linklater trilogy. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke return as Celine and Jesse, now married with twins, living in Europe and enjoying a family vacation with friends. While the first two films were romantic because of what could be, this one is romantic for what they are, who they've become, and what's in store for them. Addressing the problems of the last film, Jesse worries about the distance between him and his son, about how much his ex-wife loathes him, and his own shortcomings as a father and a writer. Celine works constantly and worries about their life in Europe and how they adjusted to their marital woes. They argue, bicker, and yet love each other unequivocally, showing the audience that yes things get rough, and sometimes you want to quit, but in the end love is malleable and never-ending in its simplicity. This is by far the most beautiful of the three films and the best written of the three as well.
Jesse and Celine's marriage encounters hardship as they attempt to manage life together years after their first meeting. It seems that the "Before" films are the only Richard Linklater films that I enjoy. Linklater's penchant for dividing people into two distinct groups, rebels and sell-outs, wanes when he focuses on Jesse and Celine, and the characters have more depth, more intellectual spark, more remarkable conflicts than any of Linklater's other characters. Their conflicts are remarkably real, and the reflections on life and relationships more poignant than most of what we see in modern romances. The plot - and there is a plot to these films - builds organically, borne out of reasonable assertions by both characters; no one is demonized in these films even if there is conflict. The film's climax is touching, heartfelt, and moving. The film's drawback is similar to its strengths. After all, we're so used to quick cuts, shallow multiplots, and scenes that get in, get out, and leave nothing fully explored that it takes a long period of adjustment before we can fully appreciated what Linklater does with these characters. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have the type of chemistry that is rarely captured on film, but I suppose that acting these parts for almost twenty years has its advantages. Overall, Before Midnight might be the strongest film of the "Before" trilogy, but it's hard to make that determination as each is precious in itself.
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