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SXSW 2013 Movie Review: Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Midnight’
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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SXSW Before Midnight

Before Midnight
Director: Richard Linklater
Screenwriter: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior, Walter Lassally, Ariane Labed, Athina Rachel Tsangari

Synopsis: In Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, we meet Celine and Jesse nine years after their last rendezvous. Almost two decades have passed since their first encounter on a train bound for Vienna, and we now find them in their early forties in Greece. Before the clock strikes midnight, we will again become part of their story. — Sony Pictures Classics

A sequel to Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), Richard Linklater‘s Before Midnight catches up with Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) 18 years after their first encounter. From Vienna, to Paris, to now Greece, Linklater’s Before Trilogy features some of the most beautiful, picturesque scenery one could ask for in these types of romantic films.

Like its predecessors, there isn’t really a plot to be resolved in Before Midnight – the film is more of a series of conversations between Jesse and Celine as they travel through European landscapes. If you’re a fan of Linklater’s previous Before films, you’ll be surprised where the story goes – and how many big character moments have happened off-screen. You’re constantly playing catch-up as the characters discuss the intimate details of their relationship.

The script, co-written by Delpy, Hawke, and Linklater, is well-written and overflowing with brilliance – the performances by Delpy and Hawke are brilliant in their authenticity; they disappear into their characters, who seem like very real, three-dimensional human beings struggling with their identity as a couple and as themselves.

The script is brought to life with Linklater’s Steadicam, framing the characters in long takes as they wander through the Grecian landscape. These long, flowing shots feel so natural – informing the performances of Hawke and Delpy as they converse (and argue) at length on a bevy of topics. Hawke and Delpy are fantastic in this movie – it’s amazing that, after 18 years, these two actors can pick back up where they left off and it feels so natural – as if they’re old friends who moved away that we’re finally reuniting with.

As part of a trilogy, Before Midnight is a pleasing, heartfelt conclusion to Linklater’s exploration of relationships. While I immensely enjoyed this film, I can’t say it really moved me or touched me on an emotional level. It was nice to see those characters again – take note of their progression since 2004, and see how things shake out – but I just wasn’t as invested this time around. It’s probably because Before Sunrise (my favorite in the series) is a more optimistic film about the joys of falling in love, whereas Before Midnight is a more grounded, realistic portrayal of ‘true’ love – with all the good parts and bad parts on display.

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