Monday, July 22, 2013

"Before Midnight" (2013) - Movie Review

19 years after their first meet up, the situation Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) are in is an eventuality. When I watched “Before Sunrise”, I was engulfed by the nature of romance presented in it. Richard Linklater with his actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy brought a dignity to the romance that quite often becomes a manipulative equipment in the serial rom-com directors. There was a realism shaded with the fantasy of such a possibility of a perfect romance.

Ignoring the realist in me, “Before Sunrise” is a sincere presentation of love at its genesis between two people. Did they have things in common? Obviously not but their nature to bounce off each other in a never ending conversation that blossoms better by the minute is a hope for the romantics. Then came “Before Sunset”, more potent with the material and more mature as the characters themselves, it brought a sense of great reality. It showed on the cusp of technology how Jesse and Celine should have exchanged numbers but 9 years have gone by only to lament on the lost love. Jesse unhappily married with a kid and the Celine in the constant find for true love end that film with a known end of a poetry. Here comes “Before Midnight”.

The film opens with Jesse sending his son Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) off as they meander in the airport. Jesse tries to squeeze all his thoughts and emotions in those final moments to his son. In that moment, the deep guilt in him takes over from his son’s response. He comes out of the airport and drives with Celine and their twin daughters into the lands of Greece. If “Before Sunset” ended with a notion of happily ever after, “Before Midnight” is in the after part.

Jesse and Celine have become parents and are discussing how they are fumbling like every other parents. If their chemistry were electric in “Before Sunrise” and mature in “Before Sunset”, it is a combination of both in “Before Midnight”. Add a layer of marital nitpicking and craziness into it and we are in the series of films that takes relationship from its genesis to where it can lead to. Disaster, nourishment, quarrel, peace, sex and love. They discuss all those in their passionate naturalistic way, this time around with some friends. Jesse discusses his idea for next book with them and then at the dinner they share the stories, thoughts as its predecessors have carried. There are moments of pretentiousness and smugness in those but amongst them, it is the way but it really becomes something when Jesse and Celine discuss their trip over a fight. Those conversations becomes something else.

Hawke and Delpy have created true characters that has spanned almost two decades. Richard Linklater’s films are navigating through the time and the time that works on these people. It reminded me of two films. First was the documentary The Up Series wherein it meets up with bunch of people in real life every seven years to see where they are, what they have become and we compare their footage from the previous encounters. It is a video diary that shows the change in humans and how they morph or evolve into someone else but at the same time retain several of their core traits when they were seven years old. Hawke and Delpy bring those in these forty odd year old people who once were young and drenched in romance. The beauty is that they can bring those young ones back to reality when they scratch each other with words and what not.

The second film that came to my mind was Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” which showed the slow demise of a marriage over a night in a hotel room. Jesse and Celine have a similar night in this which takes a oddly close tone but the treatment is entirely different. As much as both films are so grounded on the behaviours of a couple that once were madly in love each other are hammered down by the realities of life, “Before Midnight” has these characters in much more subdued reality where these are no way close to the characters of Dean and Cindy in “Blue Valentine”. It just explains how different couple behave differently and how some survive those nights and some do not.

Late Roger Ebert consistently said this and I consistently mention this about films which is “movies do not change, people change”. When I watched “Before Sunrise”, I was in love with Celine. I see her now and I have different perspective of this woman. She is still drop dead gorgeous and infectiously honest and full of life but here she asks the tricky question “Would you have asked me to get down with you on the train with what I look now?” First of all, she is goddamn beautiful now and second of all, Jesse gives a typical guy response with the worst answer but there is no best answer either. I saw Celine for the first time being real because the questions, concerns and the struggles she deals with made her come out of the attraction and the only niceties I saw in her.  Jesse was still Jesse, may be because I am a man. I would love to see what a woman thinks of these films. May be she will shed some light on the shade I did not see in Jesse. May be she can be the girl I can ask to get down off the train with me to take a stroll in Vienna or in Paris or fight with me in Greece.