I've already ranted about my love for the Before films in the past, but I'll gladly summarize more for you late arrivals. 1995's Before Sunrise saw a young American dude named Jesse woo a gorgeous French girl named Celine (Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy) and followed their one magical day together in Vienna after meeting by happenstance on a train. In the pre-internet dark ages of the mid 90's, how could lovebirds from different continents keep the flame alive? Well 2004's Before Sunset showed us what happened to our favorite "kinda" couple in the nine years that followed, as we follow the two as they stroll through the streets of Paris on one beautifully lit afternoon. Before Sunset takes everything that was great about the first film up a notch (the dialogue, cinematography, onscreen chemistry, real time fluidity and most of all, those damn emotions/feelings they conjure up), and is easily one of the best movies of the 2000's. Here we are in 2013, nine years from the last film with Before Midnight.
|Great trilogy or GREATEST trilogy?|
On it's own merits, Before Midnight is a great film. As a bookend to the entire trilogy, it's phenomenal. This is the equivalent of cinematic crack cocaine. This dat good shit yo. Each film in the series has aged like Jesse and Celine's individual characters. Before Sunrise is starry eyed and naively romantic. Like first teenage love, it's the most cheesiest and powerful fucking thing in the universe. Before Sunset is damaged and woeful, but still longing for acceptance and a warm embrace. This final film however, is the dark, jaded bulldog phase. The "leave the toilet seat up and I'll asphyxiate you" side to love and relationships that no one likes to talk about, especially Hollywood romance films that often pander to young girls.
Before Midnight is a bold film that flies in the face of normal mainstream cinematic conventions. Jesse and Celine are the antidote to the youth oriented ADHD geared juggernaut of today's Hollywood apparatus. The 13 minute, single take car scene near the beginning of the film is a thing of sheer beauty/brilliance. It feels a bit strange watching other people onscreen as Jesse and Celine have held a monopoly on camera time throughout the entire series. The supporting cast all do a wonderful job though but really, it's the interaction between the two stars that drive this film. They laugh and cry and all but rip each other to shreds at certain points and it all feels jarringly real. The romanticized Cinderella/stroke of midnight effect that propelled Before Sunrise and Sunset is gone. Before Midnight revels in the harshness of reality. These characters have 18 years of history between them and at this point, feel like living, breathing humans to some people (dorks like me). When you've spent the better part of a decade wondering about the exploits of fictional characters, they've got to be doing something right in regards to storytelling and characterization.
You may have noticed that I haven't said a whole lot about the film's plot. That's because it's all a massive spoiler. It's probably possible to enjoy Before Midnight without seeing the previous films, but I wouldn't recommend it. In fact, I strongly caution against it. Go hunt down the other films and watch them in order before heading out to see this new one. These characters deserve it.