Film Review: Before Midnight

Before_Midnight_posterThe third installment of a movie trilogy with an interconnected story-line is invariably the worst one. From Godfather to Matrix, from Terminator to X-men film series: the result is unanimous (except may be Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy). Before Midnight, successfully breaks the chain, finishing as a film as dazzling, as engaging, as gorgeous as its two predecessors were. Both of its predecessors: Before sunrise and Before sunset were critically acclaimed sleeper hits, marking new territory of film making where the script does not have to be ‘dumbed down’ or made exotic or action packed to keep the viewers engrossed to the screen. In a way, Linklater did not have such a burden of delivering like this time since nobody expected anything out of the ordinary from those earlier films: almost made out of whim of a intellectual film-maker. But the positive reviews and critical acclaim that those two films accruing through the years rendered the job of Linklater harder, putting undue pressure upon him to make this third journey perfect: and to no one’s surprise he did deliver.

This time the story has progressed a  lot from the last time (in Before Sunset) where we were left in the apartment of Celine (Delpy) with Jesse (Hawke) missing his plane with the camera moving away leaving us in the plain of hope and uncertainty. This time we discovered that Jesse and Celine had been with each other more or less since that time, raising their twin daughters while at the same time trying to keep in touch with Jesse’s son from his earlier marriage. Celine and Jesse are not married but in a stable relation as a couple could be, currently spending their vacation in Greece. Unlike the other two films, here we are introduced to a lot of other characters at the initial part, most of them being fellow writers of Jesse and their family members who are also spending holiday at the house of an septuagenarian Greek writer and his grandson. The addition of these characters and their involvement in the random philosophizing of the couple that had been the forte of the entire film series is what broke the shackle of boredom and immediately reinforced the film on its own ground.

Later the film resorted to the form of its predecessor where two central characters are rambling through the streets of a small town, exchanging their views on life, self, love, existence, state of being and many other eternal subjects, enjoying the views around. Only these time they ended up spending their evening in a hotel room talking to each other. The conversations remained as engaging as ever but only became a bit more contesting and caustic owing to the friction of their living by each other constantly. The fear of Celine to be domesticated into an ordinary housewife and the concern of Jesse of failing as a father to his estranged son brought out in a magnificent way. The emotion between them are palpable even after all these years, reminding the viewers of the predecessor films on multiple occasions.

Two most critical junctures of the film: the emerging of Jesse from the airport after bidding his son goodbye and the finishing sequence where he is reading the fictitious letter to Celine from her future self are perhaps the ones that showed the indisputable strength of Linklater as a film maker. Watching the credits roll on, the audience cannot help but chant like Celine (while watching an ethereal sunset earlier): still there, still there, still there…. as if trying to hold on to the last pieces of profound impact the film series had left inside of them.