Movie Review: BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Terry's Take

Movie Review: BEFORE MIDNIGHT

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There aren't many good movies about long term relationships, but BEFORE MIDNIGHT is one of them. The movie stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as a couple in their early forties.

And it's the third film in a unique series that began 18 years ago when these same actors were in their early twenties and their characters met in Europe and spent an entire night walking around and talking.

In the second film, shot 9 years ago, the couple reconnect and decide to leave their partners to be with each other.

Now, after another 9 years have gone by, the demands of ordinary living and the wear and tear of raising twin girls have taken a toll on their relationship.

Celine (Delpy): If we were meeting for the first time today on a train, would you start talking to me and ask me to get off the train with you?
Jesse (Hawke): Of course.
Celine: No, but really? Right now as I am? Would you start talking to me? Would you ask me to get off the train with you?
Jesse: Well, I mean you're asking a theoretical question. I mean what would my life situation be? Technically, wouldn't I be cheating on you?
Celine: OK, why can't you just say yes?
Jesse: I did. I said "of course."
Celine: No, no, no. I wanted you to say something romantic and you blew it.

As you've just read in the above excerpt,  Celine and Jesse's conversations show evidence of potential trouble. And it keeps going in that direction.

Celine: Sometimes, I think I'm breathing oxygen and you're breathing helium.
Jesse (in a high squeaky voice) Why would you say that?
Celine: See, I'm trying to connect and you make a joke?

For most of BEFORE MIDNIGHT we watch and listen as Celine and Jesse talk about their relationship in long unbroken takes. And part of what makes this movie unique is the fact that the two actors and the director, Richard Linklater, wrote all of the dialogue over a ten week period. 

Anyone who's just looking for a good time at the movies should stay away from BEFORE MIDNIGHT, but people who want to see a very realistic depiction of a strained marriage, will find this film compelling.

Celine: What about me would you like to change?
Jesse: That's another one of you're can't win questions. I'm not answering that.
Celine: What do you mean? There's not one thing you'd like to change about me? I'm perfect?
Jesse: OK.
Celine: OK, one thing.
Jesse: Actually, if I could change one thing about you, it would be for you to stop trying to change me.
Celine: You're a very skilled manipulator.

Both Celine and Jesse have legitimate complaints, but, happily, the film doesn't take sides even in the long verbal fight that serves as the climax of the film. For all their ease and familiarity with each other, these two characters are also experts in each others' weaknesses just as any two married people are in real life.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now       thunter@hawaiinewsnow.com