There are no characters more authentic and realized on the big screen than Celine and Jesse in my books and this film works as wondrous as the previous efforts. The conversations have always been interesting and engaging between these two, but Before Midnight finally allows them to get personal. The film is similarly structured as its predecessors, but on this occasion we get to see a lot more conversation with other individuals throughout the day. The film is broken, broadly, into three sections; and opening with Celine and Jesse, a middle with a large ensemble of friends over dinner and a finale of our two protagonists out and about in a city as we have come to expect from these films. The first two sections are full of great, great stuff and I imagine will play even better on a second viewing as I won’t be antsy for some Celine and Jesse one on one time, but in hindsight it was nice that Linklater mixed things up a bit here. It also makes the moment when we get just the two of the together again that much more magical as anticipation is beautifully built up to roaming those streets.
It is a more private and personal conversation that is the film’s show stopper though as we get to see these two go at it unlike any of their previous conversations. I know I am being extremely vague, but if you have seen Before Sunset you know they last left us on an incredible cliffhanger that I wouldn’t dare spoil. All that said, the authenticity of the conversation will be familiar to anyone who has been in a relationship and Hawke and Delpy are just incredible, raw and real, it will surely be one of the best scenes of the year.
The film also works on its own if you have never seen Sunrise or Sunset, but really, what the hell are you doing seeing this without those? It is a great achievement that the story Linklater weaves here would work as a standalone work, it has all the pieces that slowly build up to the conclusions emotional finale, but those emotions are enhanced twenty fold if you have been through everything these guys have. The film also cleverly references thier two previous stories throughout and your knowledge of past events will only enhance your viewing in that aspect as well.
This is one of my shorter reviews in a while, but Before Midnight is a film that should be seen and experienced as unspoiled as possible. Any fans of the series will feel right at home here and if you aren’t a fan yet, what is your problem? Before Midnight is going to be battling it out for my #1 movie of the year.
Before Midnight is an A