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Before Midnight

The third chapter of Jesse and Celine's love story...

The perfect ending of Richard Linklater’s beautiful Before Sunset left viewers feeling romantic without really addressing the truth of what was happening – Jesse (Ethan Hawke) was leaving his wife and son for Celine (Julie Delpy). Nine years later, Linklater opens his film with a bittersweet reminder that even the great love stories have repercussions as Jesse bids farewell to his son Hank at a Greek airport. Hank has spent some of his summer with Jesse and Celine, who are now married with twin girls. As the children sleep, the pair drives back into town from the airport and the brilliant interplay of dialogue that has defined these three films begins. Celine may have a new job while Jesse longs to find a way to get Hank back into his life, even if that means uprooting his current family back to the States. Once again, the latest chapter in the saga of Jesse and Celine plays out over the course of a short amount of time. It is essentially four scenes – the car ride back, Jesse briefly speaking to some of friends while Celine helps make dinner, the actual dinner with their Greek friends, and a walk to a hotel that Jesse and Celine plan to use for one last glorious night on their vacation. Things don’t go exactly as planned as the conversation that makes up the entirety of Before Midnight turns in unexpected ways and goes to some dark places. Jesse has been emotionally rattled by his son’s departure and Celine seems concerned that it could lead to another rash decision. The crossroads leads to the emergence of some skeletons from Jesse and Celine’s closet as the two verbally spin through years of love, regret, and the major and minor decisions that make up a marriage. Few films have ever captured the way two people love and hate in the same moment as completely as Before Midnight. People who have been together a decade know what to say to each other to lift them up but also know which buttons to push when they feel up against the wall. There’s truth in the stunning dialogue of Before Midnight that has rarely been found in any films about married life. Every major decision like the one that Jesse made at the end of the last film comes with a ripple effect and comes with questions. What if Jesse had handled the end of his first marriage better instead of just missing his flight? What if Jesse hadn’t used his relationship with Celine for two hit books? What if Celine puts her foot down and stands up for herself now? It’s a film about not only about those moments in which we consider the decisions we’ve made in the past but the moments that makes us worry about the future. What’s so breathtaking about Before Midnight is the honesty of this truly stunning script from Hawke, Delpy, and Linklater. There are many films in which a couple’s chemistry makes their on-screen relationship easy to believe but few where the characters have felt this completely three-dimensional, as if they have existed for the nine years since the last movie and will go on after these credits roll. Hawke and Delpy disappear and we’re left fully believing the concocted previous decade of Jesse and Celine’s life. When they love, it feels real. When they fight, it feels painful. Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy have found a way to capture the wide-eyed romance of love in our 20s, the renewed optimism of lost passion in our 30s, and, now, the complex truth of married love in our 40s. There’s little reason to think they can’t do it again in nine years. Until then, let’s just enjoy this true gift, a masterful examination of life, love, regret, and passion. – Brian Tallerico, Film ThreatOfficial Trailer
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Directed by: 
Richard Linklater
Running Time: 
Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Screenplay by: 
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke

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