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Before Midnight

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick
Director: Richard Linklater

We meet Jesse and Celine in a train, and watched their connection grow through the streets of Vienna. We witness their reunion at a bookshop in Paris, the two being older and wiser. Years later we encounter Jesse and Celine once more, but this time their indivualities reaching out through the sanctity of their marriage. While its predecessors showered us with their personal ideals and realities, this installment treats us to their growth as a couple, and how their relationship has changed over the years. While it did have the similar charm as the first two films, this one worked a bit differently. At the end of the film, I realized that I know these people. I've seen these people. These people are married couples. It doesn't matter whether they're just reaching a decade of their marriage, or they've been married a long time, but Jesse and Celine painted a picture that most married couples have likely gone through in the span of their marriage.

Jesse and Celine have spend the summer in Greece with their family, via an invitation from a collegue of Jesse's. He was now a successful writer with a teaching job, currently working on his latest novel and balancing his time with his son from a previous marriage. Celine, on the other hand is at the top of her job, and was up for a promotion. Besides Hank, the two are now parents to twin girls. The first half of the film showed the bliss between the two, and that their connection and passion haven't wavered. Unlike the first two films, there was more interaction coming from the environment. They were soon joined by their friends, whom also represented various stages of relationships in life. However, the second half reveals the turmoil and possible regrets due to their marriage. While their earlier conversations start giving off hints that there might be some problems, it was only aired at their most intimate moment...or what was supposed to be their intimate moment. They have problems as a couple, from varying opinions on how they should move forward with their lives, down to their own personal aspirations in life, aspirations that contradict the other and may have an impact on their relationship. 

Watching their marriage unfold shows how relationships can be vulnerable and fragile. When in a committed relationship, you're no long just making decisions for yourself, but there are others involved in every decision that you make. When one is a lone island, everything we decide is what we think is best for us. However, in a relationship, what we think is best for us might be a selfish choice. You can't afford to be selfish in a relationship. Relationships are a two way street. There will be moments where people have to sacrifice certain things in order to compromise. But how far will you go to compromise, and choose what is best for everyone involved? Are the sacrifices worth it, even when you're about to let go of what could be the greatest thing that could happen to you, because it would be for everyone's best interest? 

Jesse and Celine certainly painted that pretty picture. Being in the relationship can't all just be the good bits. Somewhere along the way they encountered the bad bits, and the little sacrifices go piling up that they soon blow up in an argument. As their argument got heated, bits of their past get brought up, and we piece together how their life came to be, and how it can fall apart in an instant. The moment Celine walked out of the door exemplified that relationships can be that fragile, that one step out of the door can mean the end of it all. Watching Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke hash it out, from their conversation in the car, to their leisurly walk and to their throw down at the hotel room, they still carried the spark that made us fall in love with them from the first films. The screenplay certainly allowed the realisms to shine through, as every word they said would illustrate all of it. Still I think the people who can appreciate the full extent of it are people in similar situations because it shows a version of themselves. It serves as a reminder of how things are, and how things could be. 

At the end of the day, even with all the arguing, there's something else that matters more. There's one thing that keeps a person from just immediately desserting their partner. It sounds sickly romantic, but it's true. At the end of the day, if you really love a person and you're both willing to work things through, everything would still turn out fine. Even if the underlying problems are still there, if one truly loves another person, those problems will be solved one way or the other. It's just the matter of wanting it, and not allowing it to overshadow what is truly important in a relationship. 

Comments

  1. Good review. One of, if not my favorite of the year so far because of how long I've been waiting for it. Nine years was enough for me here and if they were to trace back in the future to another nine years later, I think I'd be fine with that once again.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I think it'll be nice to revisit them once more, as there's definitely more changes with their relationship.

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  2. Really good review. This is a honest portrayal of a relationship, and I like that Delpy, Hawke, and Director Linklatter never shy away from any of the darker material. I don't care if it is sickly romantic. If you love someone. You can work through the problems and not leave them

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    Replies
    1. It does show a good portrayal, all the good and bad bits of being in a relationship. It could be considered as a timely film; its message would never become out of context.

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