This is one smart film.Even after being a fan of Before Sunset and Before Sunrise one cannot help being captivated by the chemistry between Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke all over again, these two actors are very good and they work very hard indeed. The dialogue crackles with the electricity between them and its a piece of very neat and seamless filmmaking from Richard Linklater.
Hawke and Delpy are now married.They have beautiful twin daughters and as the movie opens we see Hawke bidding his son goodbye who lives with his first wife in Chicago.She is an alcoholic and a complete bitch so Delpy should not feel guilty about breaking up Hawke’s marriage.But there are other reasons for guilt. If they moved to Chicago instead of living in Paris, as they do, Hawke can spend more time with his son.For that Delpy will have to sacrifice her career which despite her reservations about it, is important to her.This sets up the embedded conflict which serves as the spark for the arguments that they have, like any other married couple.
There is an interesting lunch table conversation which apart from a lot of sexually explicit discussed also delves into our virtual life.The group is in a very rustic and idyllic part of Greece and there is not a smartphone in view. They are clearly capable of disconnecting but 60 minutes later 10,000 unanswered emails crop up in an argument.The rest of their problems are also similar to every married couple. While Delpy is furious that Hawke is trying to send her on a guilt trip over his son, in Asia the clear parallel may be asking the aging parents to move in at a certain point.The film tries to walk the tightrope between entertainment and truth and clearly its entertainment that triumphs in its tight 110 minute canvas.
But that said, one hour after the screening the magic began to seep away.Fifteen minutes post screening I was 90% sure I wanted to see it again.60 minutes later my enthusiasm level was down to 20%.Is there a gadget for measuring enthusiasm?No.Is there an iPhone app?No.The barometer of my feelings is unscientific but the precision with which this film charts the minefield of the married life of an upper-class married couple in the first world makes me feel there were focus groups and psychology books and workshops behind this, in short a lot of social science.I don’t mean this as a negative comment but in hindsight the film feels constructed.This is not the reaction I had to Michael Hanake’s Amour.I say this because the couple in this film end on a note which reminded me of Amour.
Delpy and Hawke take great pains to make it all great fun, dazzling even, and Mr. Linklater’s steadycam gives us the kind of intimacy that say a stage version of this film performed by these very stars would give us for $200 a pop.Now the movie for $8 is bang for the buck with Deply charmingly letting her magnificent mammaries hang out for a good ten minutes.Of course its realistic! Don’t get me wrong darlings…
Will Mr.Linklater look at these two after 30 years? I certainly hope so.As Betty Davis said “Old age ain’t no place for sissies”, and I want to see how these guys hold up.It would be a good exercise like the “Up” documentaries by Micheal Apted which looks at a bunch of real people and their lives every few years.And I really think it would be good if these two took a really long break from talking for our entertainment, for a long long time.The first movie was both smart and fresh while the second instalment traded freshness for some edginess, retaining its smartness.Now the freshness is gone, instead there is a lot of edginess, but we know these two will survive.Most Importantly the team is still smart and sassy.Before Midnight is charming, funny and even a little gory, making this a great film for a date.
#I really must watch Scenes from a Marriage by Bergman soon, its about time I guess!