Film Review: Before Midnight

Forming, the third part of the “Before…” series of films, Before Midnight had a huge amount to live up to. Richard Linklater’s series of films portraying the evolving relationship of Jesse and Céline have largely gone under the radar of the mainstream, but for any film fan should sit firmly, and lovingly in the collection.

As a series of film that simply look at the development of a relationship, through nothing but speech and conversation, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset drew us into a world of beauty, naivety, passion and love. Whether you viewed the plot and its ageing development as “arty farty”, never would happen like that unrealism, or a touching story of soul mates, true love and endless emotions isn’t important. And the chances are anyway, when compared to how you perceive your life and how most people feel love “works” you’ll sit somewhere between those two views.

I watched the first two films on DVD over two nights at the start of the year, and so without the wait to see how the story and their lives developed, fell totally into their world, coming to connect to the characters on a level beyond that of just accepting their journey as simply a love story.

And so I approached Before Midnight with delight and a great longing that once again, I was getting a chance to drop, even fleeting back into the world of Jesse and Céline. Annoyingly, I kept missing it at the cinema, my local multiplex deciding that latest “Hollywood Blockbuster” deserving more screen time than that small production in which they just talk a lot. So once again, it was left to wait for it to appear on DVD.

Unfortunately, even following the same recipe of slow pace, dialogue heavy script and West Wing style walk and talk to show the progression, Before Midnight just doesn’t quite hit the same levels as it’s siblings. I just didn’t feel the same connection for the characters as I originally did. Whether it’s the fact they’ve introduced a supporting cast to allow a foil from which to compare and contrast; or more likely, that as their lives have developed from passionate love, through deep love, we reach that final point in a relationship – accepting love.

For me the problem is exactly that – this film just feels like the characters are “accepting” life. There is no question it’s an accurate view on the situation they are in, but for a series of movies that draw you in through showing you the development of love within a relationship, to see the characters you’ve come to admire and befriend fighting, arguing and essentially, rediscovering how lives bound together by love still slowly drift apart makes at time for hard viewing.

It’s almost a case, that this movie is too close to real life. The original movies bring a fairy tale into our lives that we wish could happen to us before the third, brilliantly tears to pieces to reminding us that fairy tales don’t exist. All relationships have issues, problems and that it’s almost healthy from time to time to have a proper good shout, scream and fight. I just didn’t need reminding of that fact quite as harshly as this movie manages to do so.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Before Midnight, I think everyone should watch the “Before…” series of films. It’s just for me, I prefer to watch the start and middle parts of Jesse and Céline’s relationship.

(8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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