Only praise can be lavished on the film Before Midnight, the latest in the Before Sunrise trilogy.
Richard Linklater’s masterpiece, starring Ethan Hawke (Jesse) and Julie Delpy (Céline), offers poignant insight into a couple’s love for each other and their different outlook on life. Both Hawke and Delpy also collaborated with Richard Linklater on the script. Each one is so natural while playing their roles, that movie-goers will feel as if they are the flies on the wall. Céline is full of insecurities and fears that Jesse will ultimately leave her for another more desirable younger woman. She questions him incessantly with tricky questions about his feelings for her. Jesse, the more spiritual and rational one of the two, tries to get around her insecurities by constantly assuring her of his love.
The opening scene of the film, in which we see Jesse with his young son, Harold, who is about to board a plane to return to the states after being with his father in Greece, will tug at anyone’s heart. Jesse is trying to maintain the fragile thread between him and his son, whom he doesn’t see as often as he would like. Guilt is written all over his face as he watches Harold walk past the security gates. Harold doesn’t glance back, but Jesse can’t take his eyes off his son. The father and son love each other, but an ocean separates these two, engulfed by gargantuan relationships that overwhelm their lives. Harold’s mother retains full custody, and controls his goings and comings. Jesse’s concerns for Harold are so deeply planted in his mind that it provokes Céline to constantly bicker with him, adding to her list of endless complaints and insecurities.
The third film is dedicated to Amy Lehrhaupt, a young woman Richard Linklater met almost 25 years ago. They were together for one memorable night, which evolved into Linklater’s creating the films. Much to his dismay, Amy never saw the films. She died a tragic death in a motorcycle accident before the first film, Before Sunrise, was released. Linklater kept this information to himself until recently. According to the press releases, Linklater met Leprhaupt in the fall of 1989. He was in Philadelphia visiting his sister for one night. He was 29 and Amy was 20 years old. They were together from midnight till the next day. They kept in touch for a time with telephone calls, but the relationship came to an end.
Before Midnight is full of metaphors that beautifully add to the script. In one scene, Céline has a big argument with Jesse, accusing him of pushing her to do as he wants because she is a woman. She generalizes their relationship every time, never focusing on them as a couple. She resents the traditional interpretations of what is expected from women. This is her never-ending prodding complaint whenever Jesse mentions he wants to be closer to Harold. At one time, she goes into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, but her anxieties cause her to leave Jesse alone in the hotel room. Jesse stares into the cup of tea that she left behind, which was boiling hot and now is cold, as she perceives their romance to be.
Before Midnight , the third in this “indie series”, was a success in the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals. The blending of the script with the magnificent directing from Linklater, and superb acting from the cast, should bring about some laurels in the form of Oscars for 2014.
Before Midnight opens in the Coral Gables Art Cinema on June 7th, located at 260 Aragon Avenue, in Coral Gables, FL 33134. Their website is www.gablescinema.com or you may call (786)385-9689.