Last night, we watched the final part of the Before trilogy. I didn’t write about it last night, and I’m not sure what to write about it now. I’m stunned. Before Midnight was excellent. I loved it. It’s just that it wasn’t what I was expecting. That’s a good thing – it’s a continuation, not a rehash. I’m just not sure how I feel about how things turned out.
Before Midnight starts in an airport. Jesse is sending his son home to his mother (Jesse’s ex-wife). Jesse is over-controlling his son, making sure his understands about the flight transfer, and telling him to let the airline personnel take him to the proper gate.
The airport is in Greece. Céline is waiting by the car outside. Jesse gets in, and drives them back to the writer’s house, where they have been guests, while their twin nine-year-old girls sleep in the back seat.
Over dinner, couples of various ages talk about love and marriage. We learn that one couple has arranged to watch the girls, and have paid for a hotel room, as a gift, so that Céline and Jesse can have some time alone.
It’s nine years after Jesse and Céline took that walk in Paris, in Before Sunset, and eighteen years after Jesse persuaded Céline to get off the train in Vienna, in Before Sunrise. This time, there is no time constraint, no train to catch, no plane to catch. Céline and Jesse are together. They have all the time in the world.
Jesse is a successful author, working on his next book, which, for a change, will not be about two people meeting at random every nine years. Céline is deciding on her next career move, having taken time off to raise twin girls.
Like the previous two films, Before Midnight features those wonderful, long take, conversations. The drive from the airport, for instance, consists of a static camera mounted to the hood of the car, while Jesse and Céline talk. It’s filmed up close, so we don’t get to see much of the Peloponnese scenery. It’s just them talking. Once again, it’s the acting skills of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy that carry this film, and make it wonderful.
But, Before Midnight is not like the previous two films. The awkwardness of two people getting to know each other has given way to an established couple who know each other all too well. Those conversations have turned from discovery to debate.
There are many surprises in Before Midnight.
This is an amazing trilogy. All three films are masterpieces.