Note from Jose: Earlier this year, The Pan American’s then-sports editor Norma Gonzalez dragged me to see the sports movie 42. It resulted in one of my most entertaining blogs where we both reviewed the movie.
We had so much fun that we decided to do it again. This time, however, I picked the movie.
Jose: In a summer full of sci-fi action flicks and countless sequels, isn’t it nice that there’s one sequel that relies not on explosions, but on intimate drama?
Norma: Nope. Give me an action movie any time of the day. Not to mention that I’ve been waiting for Man of Steel for two years!
Before Midnight is the third in the (hopefully) ongoing film series that started 18 years ago with Before Sunrise, and continued with a sequel nine years later in Before Sunset.
I had not realized they had been going on this long. Jose warned me that it was the third installment of the series, but I had never heard of the movies, much less seen them.
The series chronicles the relationship between Jesse, an American, and Celine, a Frenchwoman. They both met on a train in Vienna, Austria. Afterward they spent the entire night walking and talking around the city, eventually falling in love with each other before saying goodbye.
The sequel found them in Paris, France and followed them as they caught up with each other over what they’ve done since they last saw each other. Now, Celine and Jesse are now officially together.
Both of them are living together in Paris and have twin girls. This second sequel finds them on a summer vacation in Greece, in the Southern Peloponnese. Everything looks bright and happy for this couple, but not everything is perfect.
Jesse has a struggling relationship with his teenage son from his first marriage and wants to move to Chicago to be closer to him. Celine is considering a job with the government, but is unsure as to whether or not to take it.
Going into this without knowing anything about the previous movies did throw me off a little. This movie has no room to catch up new viewers on what has happened, it just kicks off in the middle of Jesse dropping off his kid at the airport.
If Sunrise was about the magic of the first encounter, Sunset about rekindling the spark that attracted the two, then Midnight is the film that dares to examine the struggle of being in a long-term relationship.
Now this I loved. Whereas most movies build up an almost unrealistic relationship, this couple feels real. I caught myself wishing to be their friend, laughing to their jokes as if I was walking down the streets of Greece next to them.
Like the previous films in the franchise, Midnight is filmed with several long, uninterrupted takes. The long shots make the movie look like it’s a documentary and the characters are real people, improvising all the time.
I was undoubtedly impressed.
Credit, of course, must go to the film’s screenplay and the performances of the two leads. Somehow, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, despite being so much older and wearier than when we last saw them, are able to make the dialogue feel so real and improvised.
Watching the characters talk about several subjects, ranging from love in the digital age and attending each other’s funerals, to small stuff like how to teach your child the golden rule of “You snooze, you lose,” leaves the viewer feeling that we’re witnessing something intimate, yet strangely universal.
Watching these two together is like being reunited with old friends.
See! This is exactly what I mean!
It’s in the film’s dark second half of the movie that the dialogue really shines though.
In the second half, a small conversation between the two escalates into a full-blown argument where the future of their relationship is at stake. As a couple who’ve been together for nearly a decade, both Celine and Jesse know what to say to make the other hurt as everything they’ve been holding in is laid bare (both physically and emotionally.)
This really helped to make the relationship believable. This is how people fight in their house all the time and finally sometime captured the true essence of it on the big screen.
Here is the Happily Ever After you’re never told about in its horrifying glory. It’s raw. It’s sad. It’s ugly. It’s also beautiful, touching, hilarious and hopeful for a new day.
I can’t think of any other film series that captures the life of a relationship onscreen, decade after decade. It’s funny, romantic and mesmerizing.
This is easily the best film I’ve seen this year. I cannot wait until 2022.
I only went to this movie because of Jose, but, I must say, it’s one of the best films I’ve seen. Although I now want to watch the other two movies, I feel as if it’s not necessary. This movie can stand on it’s own.
Have you seen Before Midnight? If you haven’t, check it now playing at Carmike 20 in Edinburg and Hollywood USA in McAllen!