MRR Review: "Before Midnight"

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Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy star in this 2013 romantic drama, set nine years after the conclusion of Before Sunset (2004), one of its two prequel films along with 1995's Before Sunrise. Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Deply) live in Paris as a couple and parents to twin girls. Jesse is struggling to maintain his relationship with his teenage son, Hank, who lives in Chicago. He continues to find success as a novelist, while Celine on the other hand is at a career crossroads.
3.5

MRR Review: "Before Midnight"

-- Rating: R
Length: 108 minutes
Release Date: May 24, 2013
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Genre: Drama

"Before Midnight" is the third installment in a series of films detailing the meeting and subsequent relationship of a young couple, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). The two first met on a train in Vienna in the 1995 film "Sunrise," and then they caught up with each other again in Paris in the 2004 film "Before Sunset." When they first met, the two were fresh-faced young adults in their early twenties. In "Before Midnight," they are not only in their mid-forties, they are the parents of twin girls.

The movie starts off with the family on holiday in Greece. They head to the airport to send Jesse's teenage son from his first marriage, Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick), back to his mom in Chicago, and this act sends Jesse spiraling down the absentee-father's road to self-doubt, which leads to several deep conversations with Celine. In fact, Jesse is considering moving the family from their home in Paris back to Chicago, so he can spend more time with Hank.

The couple heads back to the friend's villa where they are staying, and they begin to do something that wasn't really seen in the first two movies-they interact with others. Throughout much of the movie, they discuss with other people the topics of love, the differences between men and women, the intricacies of relationships, and what has gone in their lives over the past nine years.

Much of the movie's final act is punctuated with a huge fight that erupts between Jesse and Celine because she ends a phone conversation with Hank before Jesse has the chance to say goodbye. The fight is long, drawn-out, and intense, and it leaves audiences going back and forth over which person they should be rooting for. As it always happens, things work out just fine in the end.

In the first two movies, Jesse and Celine were young, optimistic, and perpetually talking about the future. In "Beyond Midnight," director Richard Linklater opted for a realistic and pragmatic narrative, and the movie shows Jesse and Celine as a mature couple, wrinkles and all. Instead of planning their future, they tend to talk about the mistakes they have made in the past and the problems they have in the present. Youthful idealism has been replaced with comfort and contentment, although the movie leaves the gnawing impression that there is something much bigger going on that nobody wants to talk about.

All three movies manage to capture something that very few directors are truly able to achieve: true and utter realism. From the easy dialog to the awkward pauses, everything in "Beyond Midnight" allows the audience to envision themselves in the same situation. The last nine years have taken a toll on this couple, just as time does in real life. Viewers who have followed this couple through the past two movies come into "Beyond Midnight" assuming the couple's relationship is rock solid. Those same viewers leave the movie with many questions.

Richard Linklater is a self-taught writer and director who made his directorial debut in 1985, but he didn't come into his own until the 1990s. He was the genius behind such films as "Fast Food Nation," "Before Sunset," "Bad News Bears," and "A Scanner Darkly."

Ethan Hawke was perfectly cast in the role of Jesse. He has a gentle calm about him, and he is able to add real depth to the character he portrays. Hawke came into "Beyond Midnight" with a long and successful resume, including two Oscar nominations. One of his first films was the 1989 hit "Dead Poets Society," which he followed up with parts in "Reality Bites," "Training Day," "Assault on Precinct 13," and "Fast Food Nation."

Julie Delpy makes the perfect complement to Ethan Hawke in the film. She was born in France to parents who were in the entertainment business, and she made her acting debut in 1978 in the French movie "Guerres Civiles en France." Delpy started acting in American movies in the 1990s, and she soon won the hearts of viewing audiences everywhere. She signed on to make several Disney films in 1993, including "Killing Zoe," "The Three Musketeers," and the "Three Colors" franchise.

Seamus Liam Davey-Fitzpatrick was born in 1998, and he made his acting debut in 2003 in the short film, "The Paper Mache Chase." His breakout role came just three years later when he landed the role of Damien in the hit movie "The Omen." He has continued to appear on television shows, including "Lights Out" and "Guiding Light," and has had supporting roles in several big-screen films as well.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5