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Before Midnight - 21/6/2013 6:52:06 PM   
Empire Admin

 

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Joined: 29/6/2005
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Post #: 1
Hint of Bergman's scenes from a marriage, with a cassev... - 21/6/2013 6:52:06 PM   
stevos


Posts: 174
Joined: 5/2/2006
Beautiful, actors at the top of their game, it's great to have them back. Typically real, funny, and true. Bit of a downer on marriage though! That could be its only weak spot- that there are plenty of films out there about troubled marriages, and it doesn't give a different spin on it- like before sunrise did with brief encounters.. I don't know how they'll survive this episode- the biggest cliff-hanger of the series!

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 2
RE: Hint of Bergman's scenes from a marriage, with a ca... - 25/6/2013 8:43:35 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3970
Joined: 19/10/2005
In 1995, American student Jesse and French student met on a train and spent a day and night in Venice. Nine years later, they reunite when Jesse is in Paris promoting a book he wrote about their time in Venice. Now, the two are a couple with two twin girls. Jesse is struggling to maintain his relationship with his teenage son, Hank, who lives in Chicago with Jesseís ex-wife. He has found success as a novelist, but Celine is at a career crossroads, considering a job in government. At the end of a six week holiday in Greece, they explore the option of moving from France to America, and cracks in the relationship start to come to the foreÖ.


So itís been nine years since Jesse said he was going to miss that plane, and once again, fans of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset were divided in their opinions on a third movie. I was actually very keen on one. I had mixed feelings when Before Sunset was announced because, however much I wanted to know whether Jesse and Celine ever met up after their special day and night in Vienna, I had formed my own ideas in my head as to what happened, and Before Sunrise was such a unique film, a film that was not only incredibly sweet but proved to this lover of visuals that constant dialogue can sometimes be a good thing, that it would be almost impossible to recapture its magic. Well, Before Sunset turned out to be very good too, so I looked forward much more to a third film and had total faith in it.

Well, I should have titled this review ďbe careful what you wish forď. Before Midnight has had superb reviews, some hailing it as the best of the three films, and seems to have generally pleased the fans, though not as much as Before Sunset. I count myself as a huge fan of the first two films, but not long into Before Midnight elements didnít feel quite right to me, and the film only had the magic of the first two sporadically, while by the end I wasnít really enjoying it at all. In fact, I would go as far as to say it has ruined the two main characters, especially one of them, and partially ruined the first two films. This has been called the Ďdarkí one, and there is no doubt that, because Jesse and Celine are now in their 40ís, it should indeed have more weight, depth, maturity and pessimism than the episodes that came before it. Along the way though, director Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who also scripted, have decided to write a film that is so different in attitude from the first two, that itís really jarring. They seem to have forgotten that the first two werenít so much realistic as realistic handlings of idealistic situations, whimsical what-ifs. And, in doing this, theyíve ruined the characters of two screen characters I really liked.

At first things really do seem as before. After Jesse drops his son at the airport in scenes that are very well written, subtle and seem Ďrealí, we get into Jesse and Celine mode again as they are driving around and chat chat chat. Now yesterday I would have said that I could listen to Jesse and Celine talk all day, and Hawke and Delpy have the same chemistry as before, but Before Midnight also sees fit to plonk the couple with some friends for a while. The ensuring dinner table chat is sometimes interesting, but often seems very forced, as if most of it is being said just to provide context for the relationship of Jesse and Celine. And, after a while, even the scenes just with the two start to lose their lustre. The dialogue sometimes lacks the flow of before, and yet the couple still talk in that slightly pretentious manner of people in their 20ís [and I mean this as no offence, I may have been the same in my 20ís]. When Celine maks an obscene gesture in a chapel, I started to realise how important co-writer Kim Krizan was to the success of the first two, and whose absence is surely felt here. The scene is pointless, lazy, and makes Celine out to be crass and not very much the lovely, cultured young woman of before.

In fact, itís what the film does with the character of Celine that grates more than anything else. I can accept, for instance, that Jesse and Celine are not married. The romantic in me would have preferred it, and I think that it is something Jesse and Celine would have done, but at the end of the day itís not a huge issue. However Celine, here one of those dreadful people who never seem happy about anything, is really dislikeable; I couldnít believe some of the things that were coming out of her mouth near the end, but then sheís constantly being awkward and annoying: notice how she canít seem to wait to publically belittle Jesse at the dinner table. The film climaxes in a huge row, and itís well staged and acted, and actually very exciting in a strange way, but itís Celine who is saying the majority of the bad things. I wrote at the end of my reviews of the first two films that I kind of fell in love with her in each one. As this film was ending, I couldnít stand the selfish, unpleasant cow, even if she spends most of one scene topless [and Delpy still looks stunning]. Then again, I didnít like Jesse much by then either. For most of the time he just seems to put up with her crap, but actually he is revealed to be a scumbag. Yes, everyone has their bad points, and Linklater and co. are trying to be more realistic, but there is also some nasty cynicism at work here, as if they are saying: ď You think you like these people? Well think againĒ. As I write this, I hate what they have done with this couple, and hate them for doing it.

All this makes it sound like I think Before Midnight is awful, but it isnít. I find myself in the strange position of seriously disliking a film, but admitting it is still quite good. Many of my quibbles are more personal than anything else. In fact, I think it works better as a stand-alone film ; itís certainly one you could watch without having seen the first two, as it fills in bits of the background in several scenes. Its themes are mature and pertinent. Most of us will probably question our lives, and our relationships, before it could be too late. However, the film remains somewhat dishonest, is mean-spirited, and has some questionable creative decisions. There is a music score in this film, and itís rather nice music, mostly in waltz time, as if to remind one of Celineís song at the end of the second movie. Itís often played over shots of Greek scenery or children playing and creating a very pleasant mood. However, it also dispels much of the attempted realism in a film which tries, or rather thinks, it is the most true-to-life of the three films.

Linklaterís direction is as smooth as ever, and Hawke and Delpy still inhabit these roles, while all the other performances are good; the dinner table scene is full of great little bits and pieces of acting from what are more-or-less unknowns. There is much that is praise-worthy in Before Midnight, but as it finished on the usual [for the series] cliffhanger, I found myself alternating between feeling very sorry for one character and not caring much at all. Thereís no doubt about it: I ended up wishing it hadnít been made. Sometimes one can get too close to characters in films, and this is what has happened here. Itís my loss. I will continue to watch Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, but Iíll leave Jesse sitting in Celineís apartment as she dances to Nina Simone, and try to forget they ever made a third film. Third film? What third film?

Rating: 5/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 26/6/2013 9:52:12 AM >


_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to stevos)
Post #: 3
RE: Hint of Bergman's scenes from a marriage, with a ca... - 27/6/2013 10:44:58 AM   
Phil884


Posts: 300
Joined: 4/5/2006
I saw it last night with my wife. We adored it, but I understand your reaction entirely.

For me it took a while to get into its groove. The driving scene didnít feel quite right to me but on later reflection I like it as I think its intention was to show us Jesse and Celine as a long term couple, commenting on mundanity and the daily grind of life. It was realistic, just slightly less interesting as a result.

However, I am still not overly keen at all on the dinner scene which felt fairly contrived and also an unnecessary diversion from time spent with the two characters I want to hear. Whilst I thought it moderately interesting, I donít think it actually added very much.

After that though:

Walking and talking again and it was as gripping as the first two films whilst also serving to show the little resentments and long term twinges lingering beneath the surface.

And that was the most realistic argument I have ever seen depicted on screen. Or maybe it resonated with me because it so closely resembled arguments in my marriage. The way it blew up out of nowhere, escalated, ebbed and then erupted was fascinating, weirdly absorbing and entertaining, as well as leaving the pair of us uncomfortably connecting with the very recognisable situation on screen.

I donít think I found Celine as awful as you did, albeit I found her some of the things she said during the fight to be hurtful and utterly reprehensible. However, I think the first two films showed that she is quite capable of being vocal and someone who forcefully expresses her opinions. This was tempered in those situations under the bloom of love. But this was 10 years later and more generally, I just found her behaviour during the argument to be quite tiresome and I sympathised with Jesse having to endure it. However, I suppose that is a more personal reaction, based upon my own arguments and experience. As a result, for me, Jesse pretty much summarised the point of the film and reality of life when he stated that all of this is, in fact, true love, so accept it, this is how it works in practice, acknowledge that. That resonated with me.

So I loved it, like the first two, but for different reasons; just as I loved Sunset for what I took from that film, which was different to what I took from Sunrise. As a romantic, I prefer the first two films, but I love the way Linklater et al have taken the romantic ideal and presented us with what I consider to be the reality of a long term relationship. It took me decades to realise that Hollywood presents nothing but fantasy, or such films conclude as the first, lustful, stage is kicking in. It warped my perspective for years.

Roll on 2022 please. I would love to spend more time in their company and will now spend the next 9 years hoping that the romantic in them wins out.


_____________________________

I accept nothing from a man who imprisons his guests in a commode

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 4
RE: Before Midnight - 2/7/2013 5:46:43 PM   
R W

 

Posts: 338
Joined: 23/6/2006
The year of 1995 was the start of a wonderful love story as director Richard Linklater and co-writer Kim Krizan presented Before Sunrise, a classic boy-meets-girl drama starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as Jesse and Celine who meet on a train, had a one night stand during which a romance ensues. Nine years later, they reunite in Before Sunset as they rekindled their relationship, which ended on an ambiguous note on whether they got back together or not. Another nine years laterÖ

As Jesse and Celine and their twin daughters are on their last day in their Greek holiday, the couple assesses their relationship in its past, present and future.

When Before Midnight was announced, fans of the two predecessors were initially hesitant, given the brilliantly ambiguous ending of Before Sunset. In the case of TV shows like Moonlighting and The X-Files, if the central relationship becomes romantic, itís no longer engaging. However, despite they are together as part of a happy if challenging family, the characters of Jesse and Celine are so likeable that their conversations are a pleasure. What this instalment deals with is age as they are more mature, have children but are they still the two youths who met on a train eighteen years ago and can their romance continue for another few decades?

Even during the course of the last eighteen years, Richard Linklater hasnít changed his direction as he continues to shoot long takes and very much letting the actors do their thing, no matter long the scene is. Having co-written the script with Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are in top form, showing new sides to their roles, such as Jesse conflicted by his brief connection with his son from a previous marriage, which causes friction with his relationship with Celine. Yet despite the difficulties they eventually have, there is humour to come out of their conversations from Celineís bimbo impersonation to Jesseís immature comments about sex.

Whilst many have commented that this is the final instalment of what is instantly one of the greatest trilogies, there is a chance we may see Jesse and Celine in another nine years. As for Before Midnight is a wonderful continuation of an eighteen-year-old relationship which hasnít lost his love yet, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are adorable together.

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 5
RE: Before Midnight - 3/7/2013 1:58:42 PM   
Coyleone


Posts: 567
Joined: 13/10/2008
Before Midnight (2013)

So I went in to this film with very high expectations, having thought the first was great and adoring the second, I was ready for another fun and moving instalment in the lives of these two loveable, realistic characters. This turned out to be so much more.

This time, the film and itís amazing characters deal with long term commitment. This obviously isnít something that hasnít been done before in films, but itís never been done with such heart and realism. While the other two movies seemed like fairytales, this is much more grounded in reality and drama, and it hits us hard because weíve grown to love and root for these two people, never have I wanted anyone to succeed more than this.

Something else that sets it apart from the others is the introduction of new characters to give different perspectives on things, on life and on relationships. Weíve seen Jesse and Celine discuss their thoughts on the world and each other, now we see other people in their lives and how they effect their views and how they are impacted by new opinions and view points. Itís amazing to watch these characters develop, how theyíre discussions remain similar to 18 years ago, their questions are the same, but their answers are different. Itís thought provoking and incredibly sad on occasions.

It still feels like we are intruding on their lives, on their private and intimate conversations, but here itís multiplied because weíve never seen them like this, weíve never seen them be so grounded in reality, dealing with these types of situations and dilemmas. They argue and we understand why, anyone would probably react the same way they do In the heat of the moment, but I was frustrated at both of them, I wanted to tell them to stop in the middle of the cinema, I wanted to calm them down. Thatís how much I feel for these characters, how much I want them to rise above everything that stands in their way.

Itís not all like that though. Thereís just as much in here that gave me hope. They still share those moments of pure chemistry with each other that made them fall in love in the first place. They still share that banter, they still laugh together and thereís still moments that made me smile like an idiot throughout. It all feels so real, even the way the conversation still flows from one thing to another like it used to.

Itís genuinely laugh out loud funny on occasions too, more so than itís predecessors. But this isnít a comedy, the funny moments stem purely from the banter and the comments they make towards each other, just like it would if we were to banter with our friends or partners. It all feels improvised and like itís really happening right there in front of us. These characters are so relatable and loveable and genuine, that it really did hit me hard when it all seems to be fading away.

The final half an hour is so compelling to watch. I was willing them to survive. I think there were 3 or 4 moments in which my eyes welled up with tears, some out of sadness, some out of happiness. There was a moment I was sure it was going to end on and I was praying that it didnít. The final 10 minutes is genuinely one of the most emotional rides Iíve ever been taken on while watching a film. It was stunning.

I havenít mentioned the other aspects that make the film so great either. The score is beautiful and the cinematography is fantastic, only adding to the feelings and emotions. The scenes are much like the other two, long takes that follow the characters as they walk, drive, sit and talk. Yes, itís another movie of two people talking, but itís more compelling and gripping than most action movies or blockbusters could ever dream of being. You can have your explosions, your big action set pieces or your long, twisting plots, but put two actors and characters in front of the camera like this and just let the magic happen, and itís more rewarding than anything.

The acting is of such a high quality I canít think of much better, but it has to be of that standard to do what the director and the stars are aiming to do. Ethan Hawke is probably the most underrated actor in Hollywood, Julie Delpy is amazing too, sheís loveable and funny and witty, but she has moments that make us feel frustrated at her character, the same with Hawke. These moments only hit home the fact that they are only human, they are living in a real world and they are dealing with real situations that we havenít seen them do before. That part of it is portrayed to absolute perfection in the final act. They donít do anything we wouldnít do, they donít say anything we wouldnít say and they have to learn to deal with that part of life.

By the end of the film, I was so taken back emotionally, I felt exhausted. This is the type of film I wait for every year to be released, but it rarely comes. This is the type of film that I feel can be cherished for years and years to come by anyone who can relate to the characters and what the film is saying. Life is real, it isnít perfect, but we do our best to make it that way. True love doesnít just go away.

Again, this isnít breaking any new ground in regards to itís subject matter, but Iíve never seen it done better, with better characters, more heart, more realism and so much emotion. At the end, I had tears in my eyes, I wanted to cheer, I couldnít stop smiling. A wonderful, uplifting, life affirming movie. Perfect, and the best movie of the year by an astonishingly high margin for me. A special, special film.

10/10

(in reply to R W)
Post #: 6
RE: Before Midnight - 19/7/2013 10:26:25 AM   
ChudMonkey


Posts: 130
Joined: 29/7/2007
From: London
quote:

ORIGINAL: Coyleone

Before Midnight (2013)

So I went in to this film with very high expectations, having thought the first was great and adoring the second, I was ready for another fun and moving instalment in the lives of these two loveable, realistic characters. This turned out to be so much more.

This time, the film and itís amazing characters deal with long term commitment. This obviously isnít something that hasnít been done before in films, but itís never been done with such heart and realism. While the other two movies seemed like fairytales, this is much more grounded in reality and drama, and it hits us hard because weíve grown to love and root for these two people, never have I wanted anyone to succeed more than this.

Something else that sets it apart from the others is the introduction of new characters to give different perspectives on things, on life and on relationships. Weíve seen Jesse and Celine discuss their thoughts on the world and each other, now we see other people in their lives and how they effect their views and how they are impacted by new opinions and view points. Itís amazing to watch these characters develop, how theyíre discussions remain similar to 18 years ago, their questions are the same, but their answers are different. Itís thought provoking and incredibly sad on occasions.

It still feels like we are intruding on their lives, on their private and intimate conversations, but here itís multiplied because weíve never seen them like this, weíve never seen them be so grounded in reality, dealing with these types of situations and dilemmas. They argue and we understand why, anyone would probably react the same way they do In the heat of the moment, but I was frustrated at both of them, I wanted to tell them to stop in the middle of the cinema, I wanted to calm them down. Thatís how much I feel for these characters, how much I want them to rise above everything that stands in their way.

Itís not all like that though. Thereís just as much in here that gave me hope. They still share those moments of pure chemistry with each other that made them fall in love in the first place. They still share that banter, they still laugh together and thereís still moments that made me smile like an idiot throughout. It all feels so real, even the way the conversation still flows from one thing to another like it used to.

Itís genuinely laugh out loud funny on occasions too, more so than itís predecessors. But this isnít a comedy, the funny moments stem purely from the banter and the comments they make towards each other, just like it would if we were to banter with our friends or partners. It all feels improvised and like itís really happening right there in front of us. These characters are so relatable and loveable and genuine, that it really did hit me hard when it all seems to be fading away.

The final half an hour is so compelling to watch. I was willing them to survive. I think there were 3 or 4 moments in which my eyes welled up with tears, some out of sadness, some out of happiness. There was a moment I was sure it was going to end on and I was praying that it didnít. The final 10 minutes is genuinely one of the most emotional rides Iíve ever been taken on while watching a film. It was stunning.

I havenít mentioned the other aspects that make the film so great either. The score is beautiful and the cinematography is fantastic, only adding to the feelings and emotions. The scenes are much like the other two, long takes that follow the characters as they walk, drive, sit and talk. Yes, itís another movie of two people talking, but itís more compelling and gripping than most action movies or blockbusters could ever dream of being. You can have your explosions, your big action set pieces or your long, twisting plots, but put two actors and characters in front of the camera like this and just let the magic happen, and itís more rewarding than anything.

The acting is of such a high quality I canít think of much better, but it has to be of that standard to do what the director and the stars are aiming to do. Ethan Hawke is probably the most underrated actor in Hollywood, Julie Delpy is amazing too, sheís loveable and funny and witty, but she has moments that make us feel frustrated at her character, the same with Hawke. These moments only hit home the fact that they are only human, they are living in a real world and they are dealing with real situations that we havenít seen them do before. That part of it is portrayed to absolute perfection in the final act. They donít do anything we wouldnít do, they donít say anything we wouldnít say and they have to learn to deal with that part of life.

By the end of the film, I was so taken back emotionally, I felt exhausted. This is the type of film I wait for every year to be released, but it rarely comes. This is the type of film that I feel can be cherished for years and years to come by anyone who can relate to the characters and what the film is saying. Life is real, it isnít perfect, but we do our best to make it that way. True love doesnít just go away.

Again, this isnít breaking any new ground in regards to itís subject matter, but Iíve never seen it done better, with better characters, more heart, more realism and so much emotion. At the end, I had tears in my eyes, I wanted to cheer, I couldnít stop smiling. A wonderful, uplifting, life affirming movie. Perfect, and the best movie of the year by an astonishingly high margin for me. A special, special film.

10/10



Totally agree! I've loved the previous instalments but this third (and final?) chapter absolutely blew me away. Astonishing dialogue, beautiful acting and some wonderfully subtle directing from Linkelater. Best trilogy ever made....I reckon so
5 out of 5

_____________________________

Top 10 of 2013 so far:
1. Mud
2. Philomena
3. Before Midnight
4. The Way Way Back
5. Spring Breakers
6. In The House
7. Django Unchained
8. Only God Forgives
9. Tattoo Nation
10. Iron Man 3

(in reply to Coyleone)
Post #: 7
RE: Before Midnight - 19/7/2013 10:50:50 AM   
Dude McNude


Posts: 37
Joined: 10/7/2013
I wrote this (admittedly) very long piece for a friend's site last month, in anticipation of the release of "Before Midnight", in which I looked back at the previous films, as well as reviewing the newest installment. It was originally a three part piece, but I've blended it all together for an overview of Linklater's films.

Warning: Contains Minor SPOILERS.


INDIE NAME OF LOVE: LINKLATER'S ROMANTIC ODYSSEY



There are two key moments in Richard Linklaterís Before Sunrise that have haunted me for nearly 20 years.

Sorry, I know thatís a random sentence to start an article with, so let me give you some context.

The Sundance festival last month played host to one of the most hotly anticipated indie sequels of the last 9 years. It would be the third part of a series of films that have delighted millions of film goers for nearly 20 years, yet to mention the titles to just anybody, is to be met with a shrug and a ďNah, I ainít seen it mate.Ē

At least, that what they sound like in the UK.


Anyway, the film that screened in Park City was Before Midnight and the director of the picture is Richard Linklater.

Before Midnight follows its predecessors, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset and focuses on the same two characters that it has done for the last two pictures. Indeed, Before Sunrise is, to its fans at least, something of a perfect romantic movie, an impeccable study of two young kids finding each other in the most unlikely of places.

Make no mistake, here. To fans of this series, this is a majorly big deal. So it was with delight, relish and more than a little romantic nostalgia that, in order to gear myself up for the third part of this exceptional set of films, I sat down to watch the first two parts again.

I did the sensible thing and started at the beginning.

Before Sunrise:
I can still remember going to see Linklaterís Ďwalk and talkí movie in the theatre waaaay back in the mid 90′s. I even took a girl along with me.

How hip and romantic was that?

This was back when I was just getting into cinema. Not just the concept of sitting in the dark, eating popcorn, but becoming far more aware of the craft of cinema, of its potential as an art form.
Yes, I was a pretentious little dick back then, but my love of cinema comes from films such as Linklaterís, the films that swept through America during the 90′s, thanks to Soderbergh opening the gates of indie with Sex, Lies and Videotape. There were so many to choose from to. Kevin Smith, Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Alison Anders. All unique voices, telling stories that were raw, melancholy, funny and true.

Richard Linklater was already one of the legends in Indie film, thanks to his debut Slacker, a remarkable art house picture in which various, disconnected characters sat around, or walked around, or danced around talking, always talking, about any and every subject, from UFO conspiracy theory to the street value of a Madonna cervical smear.


His second feature, Dazed and Confused, was, to the kids of the 70′s, what George Lucasís American Graffiti was to kids of the 60′s.

Then came Before Sunrise, a romantic comedy drama that promised something a little more unique than the usual generic love stories coming out of Hollywood at the time.
For a start, it wasnít set in America, but Vienna, and itís cast, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, were hardly big name stars, although Delpy was already something of an art house darling in Europe thanks to her work in Kieslowskiís Three Colours White.

Hawke had a profile in the States, thanks to being a child star who had managed to negotiate his way to adulthood while maintaining a career, but was hardly Tom Cruise.
I mean this as a compliment, by the way.


Anyway, Before Sunrise was a simplistic affair, structurally. For the uninitiated, it goes something like this. An American tourist named Jesse(Hawke) meets a beautiful French girl named Celine (Delpy) on a train. They talk, connect and as the train makes its stop in Vienna, Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train and spend the night with him, walking about, taking in the sights and generally getting to know one and other.

AndÖwell, thatís it.

No, Iím not kidding, it really is that basic.

A clock is ticking, of course, as any movie needs a hook. Jesse is heading back to the US in the morning, so their time together will be fleeting at best.

Suffice to say, as this is a romance, at no point do we think that Hawke will turn out to be some sort of homicidal maniac with rape and murder on his mind.


The jury is out on Delpy, though. After all she believes in palm readers and is terrible at pinball.

Just kidding. In point of fact, these are the two least threatening characters since Bambi and Thumper. And theyíre both about as cute as them, too.

Lest you not be aware already, I am a huge fan of the film, but more importantly, of the characters. Here is not only a meeting of hearts, but of minds, and Linklater, along with his co-writer Kim Krizan sculpt dialogue to dream to. Philosophical, witty, full of brains and heart in equal measure, you can see why any actors would jump at the chance to work on such a project, despite itís ultimately aimless agenda. Itís two ships passing in the night, a pair so perfect for each other, yet doomed to part in the morning.

So, to THOSE scenes. The scenes I mentioned at the head of this diatribe.

The first takes place in a record shop.

Remember those?

Jesse and Celine have been hanging out for about four hours or so by this point and squeeze into a listening booth together to play a record. Itís a wordless sequence, save the lyrics of Kath Bloomís Come Here, which echoes whatís going through each characterís head at this moment. Itís the performances of both Hawke and Delpy that make this moment so spellbinding. Itís achingly romantic, all about anticipation, both making eye contact, over and over, lips constantly pursed for that first kiss that neither is ready to initiate. In short, a perfect portrait of young love, or at the very least, itís potential.

Then there is that second scene.

The couple visit a cemetery at an early point in the film, and gaze upon graves, speculating on the lives theses people may have lived. Itís the only point in the picture where I felt a plot creeping my way, that this couple would be dead by the end of the night, becoming just another two names on the headstones of this cemetery.


I was, of course, over thinking things just a tad.In the end, there are no such acts of random violence, although at times Hawkeís character can be so frustratingly cynical that you may wish to push him into the river Wien. But then, thatís the charm of the characters. They are alike in many ways, particularly in affairs of the heart, yet the more interesting aspects are in the moments when they bicker and argue.

It just feels real, like we are privy to a couple in the throes of something deeply personal, in an experience that they will never forget.

The audience that I saw the picture with, certainly felt the same way.

What I also found curious was that, re-watching the film after all these years, I had forgotten that these two key scenes come one after the other in the picture, almost as if Linklater was dangling both hope and despair in front of his two leading actors and seeing if they flinch. By the time the couple share their first kiss, we are left in no doubt that this is a film in a grand tradition of romantic storytelling, stretching all the way back to Wilderís The Apartment. Itís all about the sweet and the sour.


The end of Before Sunrise leaves room for speculation. Itís perfect in that way, leaving the audience to figure out for themselves whether they get a happy ending or a bittersweet one.
What none of us could have anticipated was that, 9 years later, we would get an answer to our speculation.

We didnít ask for a sequel.

It wasnít demanded, petitioned. Hell, it wasnít even technically warranted.

Linklaterís original ended on a perfect note. Did they meet again or not? Did it even matter if they met again? And if you had been in their shoes, would you have gone back? The director Alex Cox once said that audiences have a hard time with ambiguity, but ambiguity is still a great thing to utilize. Before Sunrise was one of those rare beasts: a film that could have its cake and eat it.
So, when news came through the festival circuit 9 years later that a follow-up film was to be released, it seemed that not only could you have your cake and eat it, but if you had enough eggs, you could make cupcakes as well.

Stop me if Iím getting too technical.

Which brings us to Before Sunset...

Öin which we start in a bookstore in Paris. Jesse is now an author, on the final leg of a book tour. The book he has written is a fictional account of that magical night he spent in Vienna all those years ago, with Celine, the girl, it would seem, he never saw again.

Except sheís standing about ten feet away.


Talk about a movie moment. Sure, itís not the Titanic sinking, or Roy Scheider blowing up a shark, but to those of us that had fallen in love with these characters in Before Sunrise, this is huge.
Their eyes meet. Jesse, in mid sentence, stutters, but just about manages to keep it together. They step outside together, start walking, start talking andÖweíre off again, as if the last 9 years had never happened.

Before Sunset is more than just a sequel, itís a catch up, a making up for lost time. But itís also a film tinged with an overbearing sadness, filled with warmth and humour, sure, but overall a feeling of regret. For those of us that care, these characters are ourselves, or at least an approximation of ourselves, and as such, every little tick, emotion and small drama that unfolds over the course of the filmís brisk running time, feel monumental.

It helps that we have two actors at the top of their game. If we can just dissect that for a moment, it should be pointed out that this time around both Hawke and Delpy share a screenwriting credit with Linklater.


It shows, with the two actors allowing much of their own personal experiences to slip into the back story of the characters. It takes a lot of talent to hold the screen for this amount of time, without ever letting things get stale, and its a testimony to both Hawke and Delpy, but also to Linklaterís un-fussy direction, that these series of films have never out stayed their welcome.

On a purely technical level, Before Sunset is a better made film than itís predecessor, the camera work and cinematography bathing the actors in a warm, summer glow. The locations donít hurt either, Celineís neighbourhood reflecting a history of Beatnik cool that is not entirely coincidental.

Hell, she even listens to Nina Simone, which gives some indication to the Jazz riffs inherent in the talented people behind this picture.

The clock, as always, is ticking again. Jesse has a plane to catch in two hours, and, while they had a whole night together in the previous film, the immediacy of their time together, here, makes all the difference. They have to try to cram 9 years of history into this short space, catching up, but also rekindling what was potentially the great love affair of their lives.


This is where the ache sets in. Jesse and Celine are so perfect together, completely sparking off one and other at every moment, that it is a terrible inevitability to learn that the rest of their lives are in pieces: Failed relationships, failed marriages, kids, jobs, possible mental breakdown, itís all in there.

As with Sunrise, two scenes stand out.

The first takes place in a car, as Jesse gives Celine a lift home. Their time together is coming to an end, and they know it. And suddenly, everything comes out. The feelings they have for one and other, the heartbreak, tears of sorrow and joy. The scene lasts all of six minutes, but feels so raw and gripping that it completely immerses you, allowing you to forget that this is all just a movie.

Of course, to movie fans, it isnít just a movie. We relate to Jesse and Celine in a way that we can never relate to, say, Jack and Rose in Titanic, simply because of the scope and scale of the pictures. James Cameron can harp on about intimacy all he wants, but itís intimacy taking place on a huge fucking boat! In Before Sunset, it takes place in real-time in a real place: The back of a car.

Yíknow, where these sort of things tend to happen.

Sure, itís not as romantic as a sunset over the North Atlantic with an Enya-esque soundtrack, but itís a hell of a lot more powerful.

The second scene, much like with Before Sunrise, takes place immediately after this moment in the car. Jesse walks Celine up a long spiral staircase to her cute little apartment. It took me right back to the moment in the record shop, as the two characters find themselves desperately longing to kiss one and other. The long walk up the stairs is done in one shot and holds on the actorís faces, an unbelievable sexual tension in the air, a Ďwill they, wonít theyí and, more importantly, Ďdoes he have enough time?í

Although, being unhappily married, with a kid and,well, yíknowÖÖ.being a bloke, he probably only needs five minutes.


But anyway, enough about me. As we approach the end of the picture, the tone starts to shift. Itís not giving anything away to say that the film ends on a no less ambiguous note than itís predecessor. However, as the credits roll, you feel that perhaps, just perhaps, we have been given the ending these characters deserve.

Of course, we could all be wrong about that too.


With Before Midnight, it would seem that Linklater and his actors still have stories to tell. Where Jesse and Celine had ended up was anyoneís guess, although the latest installment is set in Greece, so at the very least, we know their passports are still valid.

And I take a great deal of comfort from that.

Not the passports thing, obviously, but the fact that we are being allowed another glimpse into their lives. I for one, could continue to watch these two characters, every 10 years or so, for the rest of my life, and one gets the sense that this is exactly what Linklater and his actors have planned for us.


Fictional or not, they are, arguably, the greatest on-screen couple in cinema history, in what, depending on your point of view, not to mention any future installments, could very well turn out to be the greatest cinematic love story ever told.

So...

If misery loves company, then get thee to a multiplex.

Come to think of it, considering that Richard Linklater has crafted the least profitable trilogy in the history of cinema, an art house theatre might be a safer bet.

If Before Sunset gave us something close to a resolution as the end credits rolled, then Linklaterís latest entry in his ongoing dissection of relationships, Before Midnight, pulls us back from the realm of happy endings and plunges us head first into a relationship in crisis.

Make no mistake about it, if the first two films skipped to the heartbeat of the works of Francois Truffaut, then this latest film has more of an Eric Roemer feel to it, more depth, less sweetness.

Donít panic, though. We are in good company here and fans of this series will leave the theatre more than satisfied.

If perhaps not as woozy with the inclination to kiss the face off of the first person they see.

When we last saw Jesse and Celine, they had hooked up in Paris, after a near ten year separation. The echoes of that first, magical night in Vienna were still there, as was the almost unbearable tension that the audience felt, forever optimistic that these two soul mates just had to get together by the end of the film.

Midnight opens nine years since we left Jesse watching Celine slow dancing to Nina Simone in her beatnik Parisian apartment. The question as to whether Jesse caught his plane home or not is finally answered. Yes, the two are together (though not married), they have two gorgeous little twin girls, and they still favour talking above all other activities, preferably in an exotic location, in this case, Jesseís writer retreat in Greece.


However,where Sunrise and Sunset were primarily smart romantic comedies, that carried perfect emotional weight, Midnight proves a tougher watch, a study more of a relationship in crisis, than the first blush of romance.

Fans of the series may find themselves torn with this one, itís certainly not as swoon inducing as the previous films, given more to pessimism than belief that love conquers all.

Celine in particular, carries much of the films emotional weight. Her character always was the more rounded of the two, the one with whom we empathized more. She gives us a portrait of a woman (not a girl) who has always tried to find the perfect balance between heart and head, and only now is beginning to doubt her strongest convictions. Jesse, meanwhile, is still Jesse, prone to moments of child like humour, always smart and witty, but still capable of saying the odd dumb thing that could be construed as selfish and insulting and, always,borderline pretentious. In other words, a bloke, half man half child.


Technically,the film is flawless. Lush cinematography is complemented by Linklaterís love of the long, unbroken take. It takes a lot of trust in your actors, not to mention your audience, to hold on two people for such a length of time, but then, these sequels have always been made for the true fans, the ones that genuinely care about what happen to the characters. In this respect, itís a triumph.

Stronger still is the screenplay. The dialogue is just wonderful. Witty, smart and most importantly, unafraid to be cruel, much like a real relationship.

The charm of these films has always been in the peeking nature of what we, the audience,are being allowed to see. With Sunrise, it was all in the looks, the potential. Sunset dealt more with unrequited passions, again, looks playing an important part, with the fizzle of sex in the air. Midnight works best on looks too, but here it focuses on the looks between two people who have been together for nearly a decade.

And theyíre frustrated.


Angry.

AndÖIím going to say itÖ.Bored.

Because if Linklaterís films have ever been anything to itís fans, they have been truly honest. And in real relationships, boredom always plays a part.

The key scene deals with a fight between the two, which begins with wry smart ass comments, before erupting into something far more powerful. And while Delpyís performance is as wonderful as we have come to expect from her, the man of the hour is Hawke, his Jesse finally letting his guard of charm down and going for broke.

This is where all you single folks out there will get to play spot the nervous couple games in the theatre, the home truths being writ large on the screen guaranteed to put those in long-term relationships on edge for the rest of the night.


Thatís right folks, unlike Sunrise and Sunset, this film is no guarantee that you will be getting any when you get home.

Indeed, if the film has a flaw at all, itís that it may be a little too focused on the negatives, but then, Linklater has already given us more romance than we could have possibly asked for in the past two pictures. Yet, there is a beautiful circular quality to this film, and the final scene is ripe with meaning, as well as that aching romance that we spend the pictureís running time waiting for.

Itís a film stuffed with rich, intimate truths. Not afraid to let us know what weíre all in for.

As Jesse and Celine sit by the waterfront, watching the sun set, Celine gives a cute running commentary as the sphere of light dips beneath the Greek waters.

ďItís still thereÖ.still thereÖÖÖ..itís gone.Ē

It would be a fitting close to the story of Jesse and Celine.


But I wouldnít bet on it.

After all, does true love ever truly disappear?

Iíd give it another nine years.

But on the strength of this picture, you might not be able to wait that long.


_____________________________

Sometimes I write here:

http://www.deathbymovies.com/author/chrisw/

(in reply to ChudMonkey)
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