Before Midnight is the third (and final?) installment in the “before” series, we’ll call it, played almost exclusively by Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). It plays the sequel to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, respectively. Each of the movies are set and, actually, performed 9 years apart, each portraying their lives and relationships in progression.
If you haven’t seen the first two installments, I would recommend watching them prior to make the third installment worth your while.
The movie, much like its predecessors, center solely on the interactions between Jesse and Celine. What started off as a one-off, naively passionate romance between the duo in Before Sunrise, has now progressed into the realms of marital disdain, contempt and even regret–sounds like true love to me.
The movies were never about the plot, but entirely about the script. Seeing as how Hawke and Delpy have been intrinsically involved in the script and direction of the movies (not to take anything away from Linklater), it makes sense that their persona and compatibility with one another exudes flawlessly onscreen.
This third installment is featured 18 years after they first met. At this point, both Jesse and Celine have two 7-year old twins, while Jesse also has a teenage boy from his earlier, failed marriage.
Their personalities remain unchanged, though their demeanors have as begot by time and age. Jesse is now in his 40s. He’s calmer, more composed and more more accepting of life’s routines and expectations. He’s come to terms with himself and holds no regrets. On the other hand, Celine is more confused and disoriented. What once was a passionate endeavour has now dwindled into stagnation, regret and even self contempt. She still loves Jesse, she thinks but is at odds with how life has transpired.
Once again, the movie isn’t about the plot, but about the relationship between Jesse and Celine. They were adventurous and naive in Before Sunrise. Before Sunset yielded a more mature duo, but still childlike in the most basic of aspects. The final (?) installment has brought them even closer together, yet further apart. I think it helped that they were always involved in the scripts, because it’s truly difficult to articulate how 23-year-olds think when you have a non-23 year old writing the script exclusively. The same goes for being 32 (Sunset) and 41 (Midnight). Their age and wisdom has been projected accurately.
Before midnight depicts and intriguing and accurate look into the perils and guffaws of human interaction amidst the bliss and comfort. We never know exactly where we’re headed when we trek onto marriage; but, we are always kept on our toes to handle the challenges that are sent our way.