Review: Before Midnight

Written by: Dee Pilgrim

Fans of Richard Linklater’s fabulously wordy Before Sunrise and Before Sunset will be ecstatic the pairing of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) has returned to cinema screens one more time.

They may now be older (and have two young daughters) but they seem none the wiser as they bounce ideas off each other, talk about their feelings, bitch, make assumptions, get the wrong end of the stick and eventually come to an uneasy truce.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Midnight

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Midnight

This section of their on-going romance is set in Greece where Jesse is attending a writer’s retreat while Celine takes the children to the beach and makes endless plates of Greek salad. It seems idyllic but Jesse is worried about his son from a previous marriage who lives in America while they are based in Paris. So the sun shines, food is eaten, wine is drunk, philosophies are discussed, opinions given and running underneath everything is this annoying, nagging, unresolved and unspoken (until the last scenes) worry about where the family will end up.

There is much to enjoy here, not least two actors who bounce effortlessly off each other and seem so natural together, but there are also scenes that are left to carry on for far too long. One over-extended passage happens at an al fresco lunch where everyone politely waits for each other to stop talking before making their own point. This resembles no lunch party I have every seen as in real life people talk over each other, butt in, laugh at inappropriate moments and fall in and out of the conversation as the meal progresses. The climax, set in a hotel room, also long outstays its welcome as Celine suddenly becomes an unreasonable harpy.

These lapses in directorial judgement aside, Linklater returns to his characters and their story like dearly loved, cherished friends. Will there be yet another instalment as Jesse and Celine head for middle-aged angst? I’m sure all involved would not rule it out.

Author: Dee Pilgrim

Dee always knew she wanted to make her living from writing and so trained as a journalist before working for a variety of music and women’s titles including Sounds, Company, Cosmopolitan, Ms London, New Woman, and Girl About Town. After going freelance she concentrated on celebrity interviews and film, theatre, music and restaurant reviews. Her love of film goes back to her very first cinema experience at the age of five when her mother took her to see Bambi. She cried. At one time she was the Film Editor for NOW magazine and also the secretary for the film section of the Critics’ Circle and the celebrity coordinator for its annual film awards’ event. She has written a number of books for teenagers through Trotman Publishing, including five Real Life Guides to vocational careers (including Carpentry, Plumbing and Catering), and also three books on Real Life Issues (Money, Bereavement and Self Harm). Her favourite film is still Bladerunner.

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