Before Midnight

If you’re a fan of the Julie Delpy/Ethan Hawke films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, then you’ve likely been looking forward to the third installment in the story, Before Midnight.  Sunrise tells the story of Jesse and Céline, who meet on a train in Europe.  Jesse is on his way to the airport in Vienna, and Céline is on her way home, to Paris.  Jesse has hours to kill before his flight leaves in the morning, and no money for a hotel, so plans to walk the streets of Vienna until sunrise.  He convinces Céline to join him, and they walk and talk and fall in love, and promise to meet again in the future.  Sunset takes place 9 years later, in Paris.  It turns out that Jesse and Céline never did meet up as planned, so he wrote a book about that fateful night and the connection he felt with Céline, even though their relationship had only lasted hours.  Céline comes to a book reading in Paris, and they again spend time together, walking and talking the streets while he waits for his flight back to the United States…to his wife and child.

Before Midnight brings us to Greece, 9 years after Sunset, and catches us up with Jesse and Céline.  They are together, living in Paris, and have twin 8 year old daughters.  He is writing, she is an environmental activist, and they are still very much in love…though not the heady, passionate love of youth from Sunrise, nor the intense longing-fueled love of Sunset.  Their relationship has grown and changed, and they are used to each other and their strengths and weaknesses in a way that they weren’t before.  In the first two movies, Jesse and Céline are trying to get to know each other, trying to show each other who they are.  Their love is full of new discoveries, sharing their innermost thoughts and all of their stories. They are delighted with everything they see and learn about each other. In Midnight, they know each other well, probably better than anyone else in the world. Though at times they find themselves wondering if this person next to them has anything more than a passing resemblance to that delightful person they first met 18 years ago.  There are compromises that have been made, resentments that have developed, and insecurities that threaten their future.  In Sunrise and Sunset, it is the world and outside circumstances that threaten their relationship.  In Midnight, it is them.

I really liked Before Midnight quite a bit, though I didn’t leave the theater with the happy, bubbly feeling that I did after the first two films.  If Sunrise and Sunset were romances, Midnight is a love story.  The story of what real life, and real love, can sometimes look and feel like.  I’m not sure I would want to be in a romantic relationship with either character, but I thought they brought a lot of sincerity and truth to the film.   If they decide to make a fourth film 9 years from now, I’ll be in line to see it.

Interesting trivia: when looking for pictures for this post, I found an interesting tidbit about the inspiration for Before Sunrise.  The night director Richard Linklater spent wandering the streets of Philadelphia with a woman, a night he never forgot and a woman with whom he felt a true connection.

Disturbing airbrushing:  look here, where a 40-something woman has to have the body of her 20-something year old self.  SO everything Céline rails against.

This entry was posted in Movies.

10 thoughts on “Before Midnight

  1. Great review! I don’t know if I enjoyed this film as much as the others, but I really liked the way in which the rose-colored glasses of first love and romance were taken off. Julie Delpy came across as far-too-bitter at times, but after talking about the film with you, I could see how she would come to feel that way about their relationship. My hope is that they make another film to conclude the series (or at least give it another chapter). In nine years, both Delpy and Hawke will be in their early 50s, so there’s certainly material to explore in that phase of life — if the the couple they play in the film are still together. 🙂

    • While the other two movies were a glimpse of a very specific day in their relationship, where the surrounding days would not have them being together, this one was more of a slice of life, showing some of the good, and some of the bad, of their relationship. The bad is bad indeed, but I guess it might be a boring movie if they just sort of ignored each other or whatever. I hope they’re still together 9 years from now, so we can see another film. Or perhaps they will have separated, and are passing the girls off for a vacation, and rediscover their lost love…

  2. I have the first two and liked how they filmed as the conversation went as they covered so many things in that short time. I will probably see the other on DVD but look forward to it also

  3. I’ve not seen any of these movies, but think that I should. I like the timeline/maturity aspect that you mention. This sounds like something that would hold my interest. On the list they go.

    • Ally, you have a treat ahead of you! I hope you enjoy them all. Perhaps wait a day or two between, to let them sink in a bit. Movies with this much talking sometimes require a bit of time. At least for me. 🙂

  4. I’m looking forward to seeing this. I was enchanted by the first two movies and the ideas and issues they raised. I’ve been married more than 30 years now and things have changed and keep changing. It’s both interesting and uncomfortable–a long trip with an unknown destination.

    • VGrrrl, I’m looking forward to hearing what you think! I hope you enjoy it, and find as much charm in it as I did, though the pain that’s there is very real as well.

  5. Wow! Great review, Julie! I haven’t seen it yet, but have been wanting to. I am a huge fan of the first two movies. I love Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke together in the movies.

  6. What a great and thoughtful review. I was meaning to watch this movie with a friend (who also loved the first two movies; I liked the 2nd one better) but our schedules didn’t coincide, so I will just wait til this gets on dvd or netflix.

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