A strong wrap-up to the trilogy.
Before Midnight gave me the rare chance to understand what is meant by “saving the best for last.” This certainly isn’t the most euphoric piece of the triptych, and if you’re looking for euphoria in this couple, I’d highly suggest stopping after the first two. But one who looks for such joy in director Richard Linklater’s three-part romance is sheerly missing the point.
Midnight is a movie that picks at our emotions in ways its predecessors didn’t, but at the same level, sometimes at greater levels. It explores melancholia, which Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) experience at the age of 43. They’re now divorced from their respective spouses, engaged to each other, and with three kids. No longer is life about the two of them and their happiness. It’s now about everyone else’s.
Céline and Jesse have now been fully developed, in a matter of nothing more than conversation. By now, it’s the first film in reverse. He’s gone from a state of self-love to near-selflessness, and she’s gone the opposite. The only difference between Midnight and Sunrise is that there’s a reason to explain why we feel sorry for Jesse in Midnight.
Their natural personalities are probably why Hawke and Delpy seem to be ad libbing the whole thing. They co-wrote the script with director Richard Linklater, but the stressful atmosphere seems to be successfully played by ear. It’s also stronger than ever before, particularly at the end.
The biggest surprise is looking back to Before Sunrise, realizing that the romance is so much different than when it began; and to Before Sunset, realizing that it’s changed so much from when it picked back up. And in some sense, the two are individually the same as they were in Sunrise.
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