Before Midnight (2013)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

USA, 2013Faliro House Productions, Venture Forth, , Detour Filmproduction.  Screenplay by Richard Linklater, , , based on characters created by Richard Linklater, .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

They met on a train twenty years earlier and had a romantic night through Vienna; nine years after that they reconnected in Paris and, we assumed, he missed his flight to stay with her because they were meant for each other.  Now, in the third entry of this strangely brilliant series, we catch up with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as they deal with the realities of raising children, approaching middle age and the disappointments that arise after staying together so long.

Of course, they do it against a gorgeous international backdrop yet again, this time vacationing in sunny Kalamata, where Hawke’s author friend (played by Oscar-winning cinematographer ) has invited the couple to spend their summer basking in a Greek paradise.  Nearing the end of their vacation, Hawke and Delpy drop his son off at the airport to go back to his vengeful mother, before taking advantage of their friends’ gift of watching their twin girls while they have a night to themselves at a resort hotel.

It should be an opportunity to relax and enjoy the surroundings, but these two sharp, passionate and borderline neurotic individuals aren’t going to get to the fun stuff without putting each other through the wringer first.

Told in a group of lengthy takes, often without cuts, the film benefits greatly from the amazing chemistry between its stars, whose charisma together has only increased with time, and the amazing dialogue that they have co-written with director Richard Linklater.  Their ensemble sequence with their host and friends (also including Attenberg director ) isn’t as successful as their scenes alone, some of the conversation veering slightly towards forced and dishonest compared with what usually unfolds so naturally in all three films.  To be fair, however, that’s a minor complaint:  what is being discovered here, about the beautiful and precious elements one finds among the banalities that follow a happy ever after, is a rich three-course meal that bewitches from beginning to end.

The Criterion Collection:  #859

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Adapted Screenplay

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Julie Delpy)


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