We took a break from the Mumbai International Film Festival today, to just stay at home, and recuperate for a bit. Oh yes, and watch Before Midnight on DVD. Because even though the film is playing at the festival it didn’t seem right to have to share our third Jesse and Celine experience with an auditorium full of strangers.
So we settled in to visit with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), whom we had left in her apartment, nine years ago, when he had a plane to catch, and it was unclear whether he would stay with Celine, or if he would return to America.
Well, it is safe to say that Jesse stayed with Celine that night, and they are now the parents of seven-year-old twins. Jesse is divorced from the woman he was married to during the last movie. And they are at the end of a holiday in Greece. Jesse is torn between the children and the life he has with Celine in Paris, and the son he has just seen off at the airport, where the boy boards a plane back to his mother in Chicago. And like the conundrum faced by the central characters in the movie we watched last night—Le Passé—Jesse is trying to find a way to stay in touch with his two families.
Jesse and Celine are nine years older than the last time we met them and while they are familiar in the way memories of long lost friends seem familiar, they are also different like those same long lost friends would be if one were to encounter them after a significant period of time.
Before long, they are talking, and that familiar romantic banter of Before Sunrise is replaced by something infused with a certain sharpness, a little spite, and seasoned with a healthy dose of resentment. Like all couples that have spent a long enough time together, each half of this now-famous cinematic couple believes that the individual is blameless in whatever ails the relationship.
There are so many lines to love, and quote, in Before Midnight but the one that stuck, and resonated, with me was something Ethan Hawke says as Jesse: “You’ve got to be a little deluded to stay motivated.” I couldn’t agree with him more.
This is what it has come to: movie characters are speaking my mind, about the passage of time, and the morphing of dreams.
Final Analysis: They may be bitter, older, and crazied by all that life has put them through, but the writing/filmmaking trio of Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy have still got it. Before Midnight is—for lack of a better word—correct.
My Advice: Watch this movie as soon as you can. They make long takes of talkie dialogue blow by like a breeze. That right there, is storytelling skill. And seriously, if you are a fan, can you stay away?