Before Midnight Review
By Rich Cline
It's been 18 years since Hawke, Delpy and Linklater introduced us to Jesse and Celine, and their story just gets richer, funnier and more punchy each time we see them. In 1995's Before Sunrise, they were idealistic 23-year-olds. In 2004's Before Sunset, they were thinking about bigger issues, including their future. Now at age 41, they're approaching middle age and asking questions about their life choices.
We catch up with Jesse and Celine (Hawke and Delpy) on a Greek island, where they're just finishing their summer holiday. As they prepare to go home to Paris with their 7-year-old twins (Jennifer and Charlotte Prior), Jesse's 13-year-old son Hank (Davey-Fitzpatrick) is returning to his still-angry mother in Chicago. But Jesse is wishing he had more time with Hank, and floats the idea of moving to America. This makes Celine furious, since she's just about to start an exciting new job. Clearly it's time to take stock of their relationship and make some important decisions.
Watching these characters (and the actors playing them) age is fascinating, as they encounter different issues at each stage of life. It's not necessary to have seen the earlier films, because they were essentially different people back then. This movie stands on its own as a snappy, deeply resonant look at a crunch-point in a relationship, as a couple tries to decide if their still-burning passion is strong enough to carry them forward. And Hawke and Delpy deliver the dialog impeccably, with razor-sharp wit and artistic sensitivity swirling through everything they say. Watching them is a joy.
As before, Linklater follows them in long, complex takes as they indulge in extended conversations, debates and deliberations. What they say to each other is often a bit too honest, and sometimes perhaps a little too clever. But the chemistry between Hawke and Delpy is so raw that we often gasp as we recognise ourselves in them. And it gets us thinking about hopes and fears, as well as how our past has shaped us into who we are. So it's going to be a long wait to see how they're doing at 50.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 14th June 2013
Box Office Worldwide: $11.2M
Distributed by: Drafthouse Recommends
Production compaines: Sony Pictures Classics
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Fresh: 171 Rotten: 3
Cast & Crew
Starring: Ethan Hawke as Jesse, Julie Delpy as Celine, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Hank, Jennifer Prior as Ella, Charlotte Prior as Nina, Xenia Kalogeropoulou as Natalia, Walter Lassally as Patrick, Ariane Labed as Anna, Yiannis Papadopoulos as Achilleas, Athina Rachel Tsangari as Ariadni, Panos Koronis as Stefanos, Enrico Focardi as Child, Manolis Goussias as Child, Anouk Servera as Child, Yota Argyropoulou as Hotel Clerk, Serafeim Radis as Hotel Clerk