Before Midnight (2013)
So I went in to this film with very high expectations, having thought the first was great and adoring the second, I was ready for another fun and moving instalment in the lives of these two loveable, realistic characters. This turned out to be so much more.
This time, the film and it’s amazing characters deal with long term commitment. This obviously isn’t something that hasn’t been done before in films, but it’s never been done with such heart and realism. While the other two movies seemed like fairytales, this is much more grounded in reality and drama, and it hits us hard because we’ve grown to love and root for these two people, never have I wanted anyone to succeed more than this.
Something else that sets it apart from the others is the introduction of new characters to give different perspectives on things, on life and on relationships. We’ve seen Jesse and Celine discuss their thoughts on the world and each other, now we see other people in their lives and how they effect their views and how they are impacted by new opinions and view points. It’s amazing to watch these characters develop, how they’re discussions remain similar to 18 years ago, their questions are the same, but their answers are different. It’s thought provoking and incredibly sad on occasions.
It still feels like we are intruding on their lives, on their private and intimate conversations, but here it’s multiplied because we’ve never seen them like this, we’ve never seen them be so grounded in reality, dealing with these types of situations and dilemmas. They argue and we understand why, anyone would probably react the same way they do In the heat of the moment, but I was frustrated at both of them, I wanted to tell them to stop in the middle of the cinema, I wanted to calm them down. That’s how much I feel for these characters, how much I want them to rise above everything that stands in their way.
It’s not all like that though. There’s just as much in here that gave me hope. They still share those moments of pure chemistry with each other that made them fall in love in the first place. They still share that banter, they still laugh together and there’s still moments that made me smile like an idiot throughout. It all feels so real, even the way the conversation still flows from one thing to another like it used to.
It’s genuinely laugh out loud funny on occasions too, more so than it’s predecessors. But this isn’t a comedy, the funny moments stem purely from the banter and the comments they make towards each other, just like it would if we were to banter with our friends or partners. It all feels improvised and like it’s really happening right there in front of us. These characters are so relatable and loveable and genuine, that it really did hit me hard when it all seems to be fading away.
The final half an hour is so compelling to watch. I was willing them to survive. I think there were 3 or 4 moments in which my eyes welled up with tears, some out of sadness, some out of happiness. There was a moment I was sure it was going to end on and I was praying that it didn’t. The final 10 minutes is genuinely one of the most emotional rides I’ve ever been taken on while watching a film. It was stunning.
I haven’t mentioned the other aspects that make the film so great either. The score is beautiful and the cinematography is fantastic, only adding to the feelings and emotions. The scenes are much like the other two, long takes that follow the characters as they walk, drive, sit and talk. Yes, it’s another movie of two people talking, but it’s more compelling and gripping than most action movies or blockbusters could ever dream of being. You can have your explosions, your big action set pieces or your long, twisting plots, but put two actors and characters in front of the camera like this and just let the magic happen, and it’s more rewarding than anything.
The acting is of such a high quality I can’t think of much better, but it has to be of that standard to do what the director and the stars are aiming to do. Ethan Hawke is probably the most underrated actor in Hollywood, Julie Delpy is amazing too, she’s loveable and funny and witty, but she has moments that make us feel frustrated at her character, the same with Hawke. These moments only hit home the fact that they are only human, they are living in a real world and they are dealing with real situations that we haven’t seen them do before. That part of it is portrayed to absolute perfection in the final act. They don’t do anything we wouldn’t do, they don’t say anything we wouldn’t say and they have to learn to deal with that part of life.
By the end of the film, I was so taken back emotionally, I felt exhausted. This is the type of film I wait for every year to be released, but it rarely comes. This is the type of film that I feel can be cherished for years and years to come by anyone who can relate to the characters and what the film is saying. Life is real, it isn’t perfect, but we do our best to make it that way. True love doesn’t just go away.
Again, this isn’t breaking any new ground in regards to it’s subject matter, but I’ve never seen it done better, with better characters, more heart, more realism and so much emotion. This is by far my favourite film of it’s genre, and honestly feels like one of the best love stories ever told. At the end, I had tears in my eyes, I wanted to cheer, I couldn’t stop smiling. A wonderful, uplifting, life affirming movie. Perfect, and the best movie of the year by an astonishingly high margin for me. A special, special film.