Jesse and Celine have been together for nine years, but middle-age
and two kids might not be enough in the face of dying love.
Before Midnight (2013)
Directed by Richard Linklater
Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy
Sequel to 2004's Before Sunset
Oscar Nominations - Best Adapted Screenplay
Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy really know how to show the persistence and importance of love in a relationship, even when that relationship is on the verge of collapsing. In their first two films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, we are treated to romantic escapism at its finest. Two souls who find each other by accident, spend a romantic night together, fall in love, lose each other, reconnect nine years later, and fall in love again. It's beautiful, it's pleasant, and it's sappy, in a good way. But now, in Before Midnight, Jesse and Celine have been together for almost a decade, and they have problems. Love is hanging on by a thread, and one giant, nuclear argument might pop that thread for good.
Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) are in Greece on a vacation with Jesse's young son Hank from his previous marriage. When Hank goes home to the States, Jesse expresses that it might be nice for them to relocate from their home in Paris to Chicago so Hank could have a more stable home life. This sets off some primal, force of nature anger inside Celine, who is starting to feel unloved and underappreciated in the relationship. Frankly, compared to the Celine we've come to love over the course of two films, this feels like an irrational reaction, and Celine's behavior over the next hour and a half is just plain cruel at times. Granted, Jesse fights like a submissive puppy rolling over for belly scratches, but still, what the hell?
It's emotionally draining to watch this relationship crumble like this. Sure, there's a sliver of hope at the end that things might work out, but it's hard to accept that after Celine utters the phrase "I don't think I love you anymore." But hey, sometimes true love only lasts a few years. Relationships take work, on both sides, and trust is so easy to lose. This trilogy is the ultimate relationship story, that's for damn sure.