Tribeca Breakdown: "Before Midnight"


Plot:  Jesse (Ethan Hawke) has divorced his wife and moved to Paris to be with the love of his life Celine (Julie Delpy), the woman he met on a train and spent a magical day with in Vienna in the first film and recconnected with in the second film. The two are now married with two daughters, Jesse still writes novels, and Celine is working toward her dream job. It works except for the strain Jesse feels from not being able to see his son (who lives with the ex-wife) and he mulls moving to Chicago to be closer (much to the chagrin of Celine.) The action this time takes place in Greece, where Jesse is the guest of a famous Greek writer and his friends.  


If this really is the last film for couple Jesse and Celine, well they had a great run. This generation can keep their Edward and Bella, but the “Before Sunrise” trilogy will always be an impressive and profound look at the chemistry that can exist between a destined-to-be-together couple. Never has talking been this much fun. You sit there and marvel, sometimes overwhelmed, by the deep personal connection that’s on the screen and wonder to yourself if you’ve ever had this kind of repoire with anyone (and also if these characters ever stop for moments of quiet thought). They discuss so many topics of life, love, family, relationships, jobs, mortality and have it feel so natural and the fact that they get each other, and volley these conversations with care, is what makes it so interesting.

Yes they are both intellectuals and that leads to a lot of big ideas but it’s also so accessible, never falling into pretentiousness. They wonder about the things every couple would like to know, but never really ask. Like asking a partner what they think the relationship will be like 50 or 60 years down the road. Do they think its irrational to think in terms of a soul mate? Do men put more pressure on themselves to succeed in society way more than women do? And in what may be the crown jewel of this series, there’s a great discussion about how feminism has impacted the new modern-age couple, where compromise obviously needs to happen but who compromises more?

These and many others are riveting and insightful pieces of writing that again, for a third time, is brought together with such ease, humor, and intelligence by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, both of whom helped director Richard Linklater write the script. There are so many other beautiful moments (an older woman recounting how she is now forgetting what the love of her life looks like is heartbreaking) and interesting moments (one character points out that one day a relationship will be nothing more than telling a computerized partner what to do, which leads into a conversation about how our brains are basically automated anyway) but I feel like I’m giving way too much away and yet I’m spoiling nothing. Watching these two together is blissful filmmaking, and again they use Europe as a wonderful backdrop as they journey through Greece. No wonder we spent the first two movies hoping they would get together, spent this movie hoping they would stay together, and leaving the theater hoping that we may see them again in the future.

Before Midnight hits theaters on May 24th.