Hard-knock lessons from ‘Before Midnight’


DELPY. Isn’t love enough?

Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight” is so different from the usual film about love, lust and loss that some viewers may find themselves wondering what the heck is going on!

It stars, not the requisite lovely pair of youths veritably brimming with promise, passion and “possibilities,” but two middle-aged thespians (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) who have been telling their characters’ continuing story off and on since the 1990s.

Some of the lessons they’ve been taught are so cautionary that a number of viewers may not even want to learn them! They run counter to the idealized notion of love, and that reality could ruin the reassuring fantasy!

Because,  now that they’re in their 40s, the weary lovers realize that, while they may still love one another, living with each other’s tics and foibles can never be a sure thing—and could even end up in a belated break-up!

Another possible turn-off is the movie’s verbosity—garrulousness, even. Its protagonists, Celine and Jesse, talk a blue streak from start to finish! It’s relevant verbosity, to be sure, but can viewers take it?

Well, as matter of fact, we do—and we understand that those characters are so talkative because they’re separately unhappy with the way their life together has turned out, despite their love for one another.

—Love isn’t enough? Yikes, this is not the way to conclude a romantic film franchise!

And yet, our hope is that there are enough viewers out there who prefer the cautionary truth over warm, touchy-feelie romantic fiction, so this movie can find its intended niche.

“Before Midnight” has other original offerings that are impressive to behold. For one thing, the production has two really long sequences that are shot in one take for many minutes on end, bravura sequences that must have been prodigiously difficult to script, rehearse and shoot!

They act like a pair of cinematic bookends that frame the brilliant filmmaking and performances that the movie’s twice-blessed viewers have had the privilege of witnessing!

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