Before Midnight (M)

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The ViewWellington Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/06/2013

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 108 mins

Brilliantly directed, superbly written and impeccably acted, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking and emotionally engaging drama that perfectly complements the previous two films.

What's it all about?
Directed by Richard Linklater, Before Midnight picks up 9 years after the events of the previous film with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) seeing his 13 year old son Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) off at an airport in Greece before rejoining Celine (Julie Delpy) and their 7 year old twins (Jennifer and Charlotte Prior) and driving to a writer's retreat for the end of their six week holiday. Throughout the course of first the car journey, then a dinner with the owner of the retreat (Walter Lassally, cinematographer on Zorba the Greek) and Greek friends and finally a night in a hotel (without the kids) that their hosts have treated them to, the pair carry on a series of conversations about their future together, revolving around two conflicting issues in particular: Celine is contemplating accepting a big new job, while Jesse is concerned about his unstable ex-wife and wants to move the family back to America so as to be closer to Hank.

The Good
Hawke and Delpy (who both contributed to the screenplay) have literally grown up with these characters, so there's something exciting about seeing where their lives are now, nine years on from where we last saw them (particularly if you happen to be around the same age); in this way, the trilogy has a lot in common with both Truffaut's Antoine Doinel films and the documentary series 7Up.

Needless to say, both actors are terrific, sparking off each other in intriguing ways that are subtly different from the first two films because instead of meeting for the first time or suddenly running into each other again they have built a life together; as a result, we desperately hope that their increasingly heated arguments don't signify the beginning of a split.

Linklater and cinematographer Christos Voudouris shoot the conversations in a series of extended single takes, allowing the dialogue to flow naturally, so the relationship feels lived in and entirely believable. In addition, the filmmakers make terrific use of their authentic Greek locations, to the point where you'll come out of the film wanting to book a holiday to the Peloponnese.

The Great
The script is excellent, encouraging powerful emotional investment from the audience as Jesse and Celine flirt, joke around, take the piss out of each other, bring up previous grievances, make each other laugh, fool around and lose their respective tempers. At the same time, they are grappling with problems that feel familiar and relatable (though it's fair to say this will carry more emotional weight with those that have grown up with the films than it will with younger audiences), while the film presents the not-exactly-ideal-but-still-workable reality to the idealistic romantic ideas presented in the first two films – essentially, the characters now have everything they apparently always wanted...but are they happy?

Worth seeing?
Before Midnight is a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking and powerfully emotional drama with terrific performances from Hawke and Delpy. Taken as a trilogy (with perhaps more instalments to come), the films will surely stand as Linklater's legacy.

Film Trailer

Before Midnight (M)
Before Midnight has been reviewed by 1 users
 
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Content updated: 17/12/2017 15:26

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