Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Tumultuous Third Chapter...Before Midnight

Before Sunrise

A young Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise.
About 8 months ago, my wife and I watched the charming Before Sunrise. It starred a young Ethan Hawke (being fully Ethan Hawkish, like he was in Reality Bites) and Julie Delpy (sweet and beautiful). It was a film that leaned on an hour and a half of wit and dialogue. I've heard some people say that it was pretentious and too romantic in its ideas. No way!!! I thought that the characters had the outlooks that I would expect from people in their early 20s. They had big ideas and even bigger hopes for what their lives and what love was all about. My wife and I walked away from the movie feeling satisfied and charmed. We were charmed enough to watch the 2nd one anyway.

Before Sunset

The second film in this masterful trilogy was Before Sunset. It came out in 2004, nine years after the original, and nine years after the characters' original meeting. Ethan Hawke's character has written a book about his one night romance with Delpy, and Delpy hunts him out at a book signing. My wife and I  weren't exactly
Nine years later they returned to the screen
sure what to expect, but we got way more than we bargained for. This movie was real and painful and one of the best romantic movies that I had ever seen. And, it was only 75 minutes!

I loved the 75 minutes concept, too. It fit the tone of the story and because this movie was even more reliant upon dialogue, it didn't ruin a good thing. More importantly, the time reflected the brevity of what this romance had become. Once again, both Hawke and Delpy were excellent. They were sweet and funny and completely likeable (which is pretty amazing because Hawke's character was married to another woman). The best scene in the movie comes at the end when Delpy sits down with her guitar and plays a song that she had written about Ethan Hawke's character. Magnificent.

In the extra features, there is an interview with the director, and he says, "We wanted to create a love story that develops over the years. We wanted to bring back the same people and chronicle them."

Before Midnight

That brings me to the third installment: Before Midnight. Before Midnight came out in 2013, nine years after the second, and nine years had passed in the story line. Hawke and Delpy were together and had twins, and it continued on its chronicle. This movie, however, stripped itself of much of the romance. Once again, we're brought into a dialogue heavy film. Only, this time much of the dialogue is filled with tension and fighting. My wife could barely stand to watch it (I, on the other hand, loved this realistic tension). It was good film, a great film really.

Before Midnight is a lot more tumultuous.
But, it is not romantic, not like the first two. In many ways, I wished they didn't make this third film because I needed some love story that was real and hopeful that I could cling to. They ripped the rug out from under me. But, there's another part of me that is grateful for this movie. I learned a lot, and I was pushed to think and evaluate myself as a man in a relationship. It was tough, grueling, and gritty. And, it sure wasn't the same as the first two. This year, Julie Delpy is up for a number of awards (well-deserved; she was vicious in this movie), and Hawke and her are up for Best Screenplay. I hope they win something. Not only for this movie, but for the beautiful trio of films they have crafted.


  1. I wish they didn't make the third film either. I think it's strange that the third film is getting the most credit when the 1st has this spontaneous, serendipitous feeling, and the second was so sexually vibrating and intense and beautiful. Her song is amazing. The third almost made me hate the entire series.

  2. It is very strange that the 3rd one is getting all of the credit. it shows how the academy too often relies on due credit, instead of what is ACTUALLY a really good film