Friday 28 June 2013

Review: Before Midnight

Year: 2013
Director: Richard Linklater
Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

Synopsis is here:

In other films they are Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. With Richard Linklater, they are Jesse and Celine. It’s hard to envelop characters so well that the actors literally become them. Here in this third entry into Linklater’s long running romantic saga, Hawke and Delpy once again slip into these characters as well known as the shoes on their feet.

The audience knows this couple as well as the actors do. Many have grown with them from film to film, and to know them is to love them.  It’s difficult to enter the scene now, three films in. I've spoke with some who have tried and found it odd. Of course, it’s like interrupting an intense debate unannounced, just to try and attempt to start the conversation once more. Ever watched Harry Potter/Twilight in the middle of the series, with no prior knowledge? It’s that sense of confusion.

But to those in the know, we've had another nine years pass and we catch up with Jesse and Celine at a new turning point for them. Now approaching forty, the starry eyed views and dreams of the two have dulled slightly, yet their passions have remained.  Their hopes and fears have changed and matured and we now see the couple at the most distressed and at points, their most emotional.

Richard Linklater has never been known for visual flights of fancy, but once again, like previous works, he and the cast; show off the beauty of words with an elegance that many romances never seem to achieve. Before Midnight only really adds up to around 6 scenes (give or take), but the sharpness of the dialogue reveals an unbelievable amount of depth. The headstrong nature of Celine and the laid back American goofiness of Jesse have not left their personalities. Instead their traits have helped pushed their relationship into new pitfalls with the actions of their intimacy effecting who they are and who they may still come to be in the future.

Linklater has always been a director who understands the elegance of conversation and it once again shows here. The camera leisurely strolls around the characters, taking in the beautiful Greek sun as the couple once again delve into what they relationship means to them. We never really move away from a mid-shot (the trademark shot of the series) but we never need to, so absorbing are the performances.

There is a small break from structure that we've not seen in the previous films, with new secondary characters gaining more screen time. Yet even then, this only benefits the emotional resonance that takes place. One of the most interesting elements of Before Midnight is that now older and wiser; more people enter and influence the lives of these people. The beauty of the film is that no matter who enters their orbit, it is always Jesse and Celine doing what they do best.  Even now; with many considering this to be the end of the journey, Linklater’s film leaves us with a shot of ambiguity. Leaving the couple, and us wondering what lies in store for the years ahead.