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Before Midnight

by Kevin Taft
Contributor
Saturday Oct 26, 2013
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The third in Richard Linklater’s "Before" films, "Before Midnight" takes place nine years after the last installment "Before Sunset," and 18 years after the first film, "Before Sunrise."

Beyond the simple fascination of following the same actors playing the same characters for almost 20 years, "Midnight" is another example of how complex characters and relatable situations can create a memorably modest film. There are no last minute plot twists or monsters lurking in the corners. There are no flights of whimsy where one character will travel back in time or meet some illogically quirky character that will foretell their future. This is simply the story of Jesse and Celine, two people who met in Paris and spent a night together.

Nine years later, they met again and that chance encounter changed their lives. In "Midnight" the two are now married with twin girls, while Jesse has a son from a previous marriage. It is that dynamic that causes most of the conflict in "Midnight," and what offers the couple no easy answers. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are exceptional as always, and Linklater’s easy direction allows the actors to dazzle us with their acting chops.

This isn’t a film that will appeal to everyone. It’s talky, sometimes it doesn’t seem to be about anything, and in this installment it’s a little depressing. The character of Celine has also become a bit irrational in her middle-age, which might not please some fans. But it’s a lovely study of the challenges that relationships can bring and how people attempt to handle them. But here they do it in Greece. So, you know, poor them.

Special Features are light, but just right for this kind of film:

  • "Audio Commentary with Director Linklater and Actors Hawke and Delpy" offers a lot of straight-forward information on the making of the film, how their real lives informed writing the characters, and the progression from film to film.

  • "Revisiting Jesse & Celine" - a seven minute featurette about the trilogy of films and the process of bringing the third installment to the screen.

  • "Q & A with Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater" - a 37-minute live Q & A moderated by film critic Elvis Mitchell that discusses the development of the film, why they set it in Greece, the dynamics of shooting the film, the process of writing the script, and the overall tone of the series. Linklater likes to interrupt a lot so the three overlap a bit, but it’s a nice and informative conversation.

  • Theatrical Trailer

  • UV Digital Copy

    "Before Midnight"
    Blu-ray + Ultra Violet copy
    $35.99
    www.sonypictures.com

  • Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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