RogerBW's Blog

Before Midnight 15 March 2023

2013 romantic drama, dir. Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy; IMDb / allmovie. Another nine years later, Jesse and Celine are raising their children, but have they turned into their own unhappy parents?

A bit, yes. One of the key points here is that there are no good answers: Jesse's son by his first wife is living with her in the USA, and if he doesn't live there he will miss what's left of the kid's childhood (except for occasional holidays). Celine sees no reason to move there, particularly with a promising job lined up in Paris. This has no easy solution, and I'm glad to see that no attempt is made to provide one.

On the one hand, the way they're constantly rubbing each other slightly the wrong way feels very sudden, because we haven't seen the intervening development. But on the other, we've met them before; this isn't just a stock unhappy couple that we might get in any old film, it's these particular people, and when they dig at each other we remember the way they were. That's a rare thing, and it's superbly done.

The last argument scene garnered a great deal of praise, but for me a better scene is the dinner party, with various couples of different ages and relationships talking about how things work for them. It's something like the dialogue we've seen before in this series, but spread across different people who think in different ways.

Taken as a whole, I appreciated these films much more than I should have had I seen them individually. There's been some talk of a fourth one, but 2022 has passed, and if the series ends here I shan't be disappointed.

Once more if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

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Tags: film reviews

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