Movies
12:10 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Before Midnight

Before Midnight Grade: A-
Director: Richard Linklater (Me and Orson Welles)
Screenplay: Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Cast: Delpy (2 days in New York), Hawke (2 Days in New York) Rating: R Runtime: 108 min.
by John DeSando

“You are the mayor of Crazytown, do you know that? You are!” Jesse (Ethan Hawke) to Celine (Julie Delpy)

Nine years after they met in Before Sunrise, Jesse and Celine have moved into the relative craziness of early middle age, with two children and careers making demands that threaten their love. Unlike most Hollywood romances but like My Dinner with Andre, the plot is all talk, an American take on the maturity of European cinema. The chatter, at times homage to early screwball comedies, never grates and gives an authentic feel, as if we were overhearing conversation at the next table.

As the committed couple ramps up the intensity of the disagreement, which starts with his veiled attempt to have her leave her career in Paris to move with him to Chicago to be near his son, the language takes on universal meaning to the extent that most 40 something’s in the audience can appreciate the challenges children inevitably bring to romance.

Director Richard Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke collaborated on the script, and it shows. The acting superbly achieves a verisimilitude, an organic quality that makes it all believable, and the direction keeps the camera simple in order to focus on the powerful words. Linklater et al. have taken us over the years from the heady days of romance to the sobering moments of reality.

Yet, I have a feeling this couple can survive even much worse than this film’s skirmishes into the blinding light of experience. One friend describes Jesse’s recent book as “a better book—it’s so much more ambitious.” “Ambitious” is the name of this film’s game and one for which I can’t wait for the next inning.

Celine: I feel close to you.

Jesse: Yeah?

Celine: But sometimes, I don't know? I feel like you're breathing helium and I'm breathing oxygen.

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com