Just a couple of quick words on Before Midnight. This is a two-person movie with a lot of dialogue. Like its two predecessors, Before Sunrise, and Before Sunset, it features Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The first of the trilogy, Before Sunrise, came out in 1995. Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) are strangers who meet on a train and spend one sweet, romantic night together in Vienna. After nine years apart, they re-unite for 2004’s Before Sunrise, which takes place in Paris. Jump another nine years that they have spent together, and we find them in Greece.
I usually am not drawn to the two person dialogue movies such as My Dinner With Andre, or even the three-person cult favorite Mindwalk. But there was something magnetic about this trilogy, and it’s probably due to the dialogue that director Richard Linklater created, along with actors Hawke and Delpy. Add to screenplays the chemistry between the two actors and their impeccable acting, and hang on that their ability to grow and mature with each film, and you have a winning formula.
I especially liked Before Midnight because we see a lot of the romanticism drop away and we get a portrait of the challenges that a nine-year old marriage may face, and the concerns of two forty-something’s in the beginning stages of middle-age.
Richard Linklater is one of a group of independent directors who began making films in the 90’s and who has an incredibly diverse filmography. He began his successful career with Slacker, another odd, dialogue movie that became somewhat of a cult favorite. I put it on my Staff Picks for “Best Movies of the 1990’s”. Then we get Dazed and Confused, Linklater’s teen ode, another cult fav, and then Suburbia, more teen stuff, and then just when we think we have him pegged—okay he’s going to be another John Hughes—he gives us the Newton Boys, a 1920’s shoot-’em-up bank robbery film, followed by Waking Life, an animated journey through the questions of the meaning of life, and then Tape, with three old friends reminiscing about their high school years, and then, and then, and then.
But I do have to mention a couple more of his films by name: School of Rock, Bad News Bears, and his most recent hit, Bernie.
Linklater joins other independent film directors like John Sayles, Steven Soderbergh, Paul Thomas Anderson and Jim Jarmusch who kept trying new forms, new styles, new themes.
Before Midnight has a small taste of Blue Valentine, but never veers into that final abyss. The dialogue gets heated, but not to the point of a drunken Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. We don’t get the craziness of War of the Roses. What this movie offers is a realistic glimpse of a relationship that is almost 20 years old, presented in dialogue form by a couple of excellent actors and conducted by one of the best independent film maestros.
Check it out, or if your curiosity has been piqued about his other films, see one or many of them as well. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 10/22/13