ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION
- Best Adapted Screenplay (Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy)
I was so excited to see Before Midnight, but also nervous. This is the end of a story that I’ve followed for such a long time and have felt such a connection to. Even though Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are so incredible, I was scared that maybe Before Midnight wouldn’t be what I wanted.
But it was! Before Midnight is just as incredible as the first two, for reasons both different and the same. Like Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, the movie opens focusing on Jesse (Ethan Hawke). Here he’s at a Greek airport with his son, sending him home to the US after spending the summer together. Like the beginning of Before Sunset, I spent the opening trying to determine where Jesse stood with Céline (Julie Delpy). At first I thought they were in Paris, but it makes sense that Before Midnight takes place in different European country, just like the first two. Then I was thinking, surely Jesse and Céline are together because why else would Jesse be in Europe when his son is the US? Then Jesse walks out of the airport and we see Céline waiting for him at a car, which also holds twin girls with the same color hair as Céline’s. So as Jesse and Céline drive back from the airport, we get a bit caught up on the status of their relationship. They’ve been together since Before Sunset and are parents to the twins. While the specific topics of their conversation are different and more mature (Céline considering a new job, talking about the children), the way they talk to each other hasn’t changed since Before Sunrise. Céline is a bit crass and very passionate, Jesse is calm and an idealist. But even though their conversation has some disagreements, they still talk to each other and look at each other like two people who know each other and love each other completely.
They are staying with friends in Greece, and for a gift their friends offer to watch their daughters and rent them a nearby hotel room so they can have the night alone. Their walk to the hotel is like other Jesse and Céline walks by catching us up a bit on the last 9 years while also telling us more about their current situation. We find out that Jesse did miss his plane from Before Sunset and instead stayed in Paris with Céline and they’ve pretty much been together ever since. They’re not married, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue.
When they get to the hotel, they first start to have sex but are interrupted by Céline getting a phone call from Jesse’s son to tell her he landed safely. When they try to have sex, Jesse undoes Céline’s dress so that she’s topless, the first bit of nudity to come up in any of these movies. That caught me off guard, but I really love that Céline does get topless. Because Before Midnight is the first of the movies to begin with Jesse and Céline as a couple, it makes sense that it would also be the first time we see them be really physical. And I also love that she’s topless because after she gets the phone call, Jesse and Céline have an argument that she stays topless for for a bit. If I had seen this movie as a teenager, I wouldn’t have liked Céline being topless while they argued because I would have thought it was gratuitous and unrealistic. But here it just shows how comfortable they are together, which now seems very realistic.
A good chunk of Before Midnight is Jesse and Céline’s argument in the hotel room, which tends to change topic as often as Jesse and Céline move around the room. Just like in the previous movies, the argument just reveals more about their relationship while further confirming their personalities and love for each other. The argument goes from yelling to calmly discussing and back to yelling. Céline is, as usual, the more passionate one, bringing up feminism and her familiar fear of being a housewife. Jesse is, as usual, the calmer one, trying to be rational and bringing Céline back down to earth. Several times Céline storms out of the room, which Jesse doesn’t react to at all, because a few seconds later she always returns. It just gives the sense that this is how they argue and it’s not that bad. And it just makes sense with their characters. They’re never all that mean and don’t say anything they can’t really take back. The closest to that is Céline telling Jesse that she doesn’t love him anymore and storming out. But Jesse goes to her and reassures her, which makes me think that Jesse is not thrown off by Céline making bold statements like that, because that’s who she is. The movie ends with Jesse and Céline flirting after Jesse tells Céline that they have true love, even though it’s not perfect.
UGH THIS MOVIE IS SO GOOD. I cried at the end, even though it’s not sad and they still end up together. It’s just so good that it compelled me to cry, and especially knowing that the trilogy is really over now. It could not have ended more beautifully.
It was sad to see this trilogy end but it ended on such a good note. This movie was far more stressful but I also found this to be the funniest of the three. No matter how intense their fights got in this movie, there was always a point where they were just talking to each other. They always came back to a point where they were comfortable with each other. It’s so beautiful! I also love that a good amount of the film takes place in a hotel room, but even though the room is smaller than my apartment, they still had stuff to do. They had wine to open, phones to turn on and off, etc.
I think this might be my second favorite of the three but I still find the first to be the best. I’m sure it’s because that’s the age I’m closest to, but I just felt like that was the movie I could most relate to. Watch all of these right now, if you have not seen them!