Full disclosure: I was totally enamored with the first two
installments of what has become Richard Linklater's "Before" trilogy.
In fact, if you search the archives, my glowing review of BEFORE
SUNSET should be filed away somewhere in my coverage from SXSW 8 years
ago. Needless to say, my past experiences combined with all the great
buzz the film has garnered from fests and friends made Linklater's
third installment, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, one of my most anticipated films of
this year's SXSW.
Where the first two films had Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke's characters
discovering, then rediscovering love with one another, the latest
story finds Celine and Jesse fully entrenched in an almost decade-long
relationship complete with seven year-old twins. Though they still
wax poetic about a seemingly endless array of topics, the subject
matter has changed from romantic musings about the meaning of life to
practical issues like custody battles and career choices. The earlier
films show Celine and Jesse on the precipice of discovering their true
love. BEFORE MIDNIGHT demonstrates a couple at an inevitable crossroads
in a relationship that has become naturally complex.
Though this may sound depressing, the amazing parlance that has become
a hallmark of Linklater's films provides a playful tone even when
dealing with darker subjects. Once again, the director has also
chosen an incredibly beautiful setting for his characters to interact-
this time in the Greek countryside as opposed to a quiet night in
Vienna or a bustling Paris day. The setting of the film feels like a
character as well and provides a gorgeous back drop for the various
stories, conversations, and debates.
The tone and and topic may have shifted in this sequel, but the spirit
and sensibilities of the first two films remains. Just as any
relationship goes through questionable periods of strife, the current
circumstance and attitudes in BEFORE MIDNIGHT feel like a perfectly
appropriate progression. The characters continue to exude the usual
charm, yet their individual faults are revealed in a frank yet
If you loved the first two films like me, I hope you will appreciate
this latest effort as much as I did. If you've never seen either of
the originals, I think you will still identify with the universal
story of a relationship in progress.
Thanks for reading.
- Rebecca Elliott