On Friday, director Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight” opens at Harkins Camelview 5 in Scottsdale, but for fans of Jesse and Celine, they’ve waited nine years for May 31, 2013.
You see, “Before Midnight” is the third film featuring the aforementioned characters, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy).
They starred in Linklater’s smart and beautiful drama about two people meeting via a chance encounter in “Before Sunrise” (1995), and nine years later, Linklater gave us another look into their lives in “Before Sunset” (2004).
These two films currently sit amongst my favorite movies of all-time, and part of the love for these pictures is the general surprise when Linklater released a sequel in 2004.
Now, “Before Midnight” (2013) completes a trilogy.
I haven’t seen the third film yet, but I’m hoping it will leave me wishing Linklater makes a fourth film in 2022.
(Back in August 2011, I wrote reviews of “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset”, and I thought I’d bring them back this week.)
“Before Sunrise” (1995) 5 / 5 stars – Romance in real life rarely, if ever, happens the way it’s portrayed in the movies.
I never fell in love with a beautiful woman when a luxury liner crashed into an iceberg.
Nor have I found love at first sight on top of the Empire State Building.
No, real life is slightly more pedestrian, but catching a woman’s eye on a train and finding the courage to make idle conversation can be nerve-racking, but possible.
In Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise”, he explores the chance encounter, and in the process, delivers one of the most beautifully poetic films you’ll ever see.
On a train heading to Paris, early 20-somethings Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet with a glance, a smile and begin a conversation.
They show each other the books they are reading, comment on the fighting couple a few rows ahead and soon decide to move to a quieter lounge car.
There might be a connection.
They find each other interesting, and their exchanges flow rather easily.
For instance, Celine mentions she’s traveling back home after visiting her grandmother, and Jesse adds his grandmother died, but as a kid, he believed she appeared to him through the spray from a garden hose as it hit the sunlight.
Things are going well, but the train makes its scheduled stop in Vienna.
While Jesse is flying back to America from Vienna, Celine’s stop isn’t until Paris, her home.
So, he makes a brave suggestion, “Listen, here’s the deal. This is what we should do. You should get off the train with me here, in Vienna, and come check out the town.”
The trick is Jesse’s flight is in the morning, so they will explore Vienna until sunrise.
Linklater’s camera then follows Jesse and Celine as they walk on cobblestone streets, stroll by a riverfront and other random locales.
They discover each other’s musical tastes, fears, families, and more.
We, the audience, learn about them too, and see their connection grow deeper, but not all moments are perfect.
Celine didn’t appreciate Jesse’s awkward story where his friend teased a homeless person, and in real life, not every moment with someone will seem perfect.
Clumsy moments and disagreements are normal and real, and that’s the magic of Linklater’s picture.
This night in Vienna feels wholly honest, and Hawke and Delpy do a brilliant job of providing the subtle nuances of tenderness, kindness, connection, and discovery, but keep the characters grounded by delivering the clumsy moments too.
They deserve huge accolades for their performances and on-screen chemistry.
We like these characters, and want this night to be fun and special almost as much as Jesse and Celine do.
In the process, I felt tension.
If Jesse is supposed to leave for the U.S. in the morning, and Celine is heading back on a train to Paris, how will the night end?
With Linklater’s realistic portrayal of a night in Vienna, it is an appropriate question.
“Before Sunset” (2004) 5 / 5 stars – Richard Linklater’s wonderful follow up to his 1995 classic, “Before Sunrise”, is – without question – a must-see for anyone that experienced the 1995 film.
The movie takes place – on-screen – nine years after the events of “Before Sunrise”, and the film involves both Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) in Paris.
However, I feel the sequel is so intertwined with the first film, I shouldn’t go much further with my review.
I don’t wish to give away clues or hints as to how the first film ended by writing about the second film.
Just know Linklater’s camera/writing styles of “Before Sunrise” and these two endearing characters are thankfully back.
“Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset” are available on DVD.
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