Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Before Midnight' Is the Richest Movie of Director Richard Linklater's Romantic Trilogy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Before Midnight' Is the Richest Movie of Director Richard Linklater's Romantic Trilogy

Article excerpt

Movie sequels rarely work. Trilogies even less so. The rare exception is Richard Linklater's three-peat: "Before Sunrise" (1994), "Before Sunset" (2004), and now, "Before Midnight."

In that first film, Ethan Hawke's cynical 20-something Jesse picks up Julie Delpy's wide-eyed Celine on a train while backpacking through Europe, and they spend the night in Vienna. In the morning, still full of talk and hopes, they arrange to meet again in six months.

Jesse and Celine reunite in the sequel not having seen each other since Vienna, 10 years before. He has written a well-regarded novel based on their night together, and Celine shows up at his reading in a Paris bookstore. She's single; he has a son back in America and a bad marriage. As in "Before Sunrise," they spend much of the movie airing their ideas and walking and walking and walking. It's a love duet without being explicit about it, and in the end Jesse misses his plane back to America in order to be with her.

Both of these films captured like no other American movie (and precious few foreign-language ones) the iridescent, melancholy tone of youthful ardor. Although scripted (largely by Linklater and the two actors), they had an impeccable improvisatory feel. It was as if the actors were discovering their emotions right before our eyes.

In "Before Midnight," we discover right away that Jesse is divorced and living in Paris with Celine and their twin daughters (played by Jennifer and Charlotte Prior). We pick up with them on the last day of their month-long summer vacation on the Greek island of Crete. Jesse has just packed his moody son, Hank (Seamus Davey- Fitzpatrick), off to Chicago and his mother.

The drive back from the airport is an extended scene, shot in a single take, in which Jesse and Celine immediately boil up their worries: She thinks he wants her to sidetrack her career as an environmental activist and relocate to Chicago so he can be closer to his son. …

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