It is a fact, that:
- Richard Linklater is a genius
- Ethan Hawke is a genius and
- Julie Delpy is a genius.
When three geniuses get together to make a movie, Before Midnight is what you get.
“The difference between a caprice and a lifelong passion is that a caprice lasts longer”- Oscar Wilde
While the first two films (Before Sunrise and Before Sunset) were about the caprice, Before Midnight is all passion. With the characters as mature as they can get, serene camera work and a beautiful screenplay, Before Midnight is one of the finest movies of all time, leave alone that of the century. A horror movie with its sharp and often funny dialogues as its thrills and screams is what it can be called.
Almost two decades have passed since the first movie but nothing has affected the brilliance of its leads. It seems Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy must have Doctorates in Jesse and Celine respectively. They still have their chemistry and, for the lack of a better word, are perfect.
Before Midnight is intimate and intelligent, and also undemanding in the best possible way, the story of two people who have all the cares of middle age but somehow retain the idealism and curiosity of their youth. It’s a secular, happier and more serious version of the first two films. Linklater could have gone with a romanticized conclusion to the series but instead, being the visionary he is, presents us with a thought-provoking and realistic portrait of love and if it ever ends.
Just as in the other two films, what is miraculous about Before Midnight is the talking. Not talking things out, or talking things through, just talking. Two or more people having a conversation somehow turns out to be as gripping as a thriller.
The second scene of this film shows Jesse and Celine driving home from the airport: a scene that plays out, in one continuous take, for around seven or eight minutes. And what happens? nothing, or rather everything.
The execution is spot on, from directing to the cinematography to the music. The entire film is made up in about 10 (superbly done) long shots but not for a minute is it boring.
But the reason why Before Midnight is truly engaging and moving is it because it accepts and shows us that a “happily ever after” is the stuff of fairy tales, for even a relationship as beautiful as Jesse and Celine’s must go through the ups and downs.
Whether or not there will be a fourth chapter is a mystery, but if this this is the end, it’s the best possible conclusion any series could hope for: A masterpiece of the highest degree.