Mike Kueber's Blog

October 25, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies #84 – Before Midnight

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 1:05 am
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Two of my favorite movies in the past few years were Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), so you can imagine how excited I was to learn that Before Midnight was coming out in 2013.  Because its visit to the Bijou Theatre in San Antonio was so brief, I missed it, but this week it was released by Netflix by DVD, and it was worth the wait.

Before Sunrise was about a young American guy (Ethan Hawke) who met a young French girl (Julie Delphy) on train from Hungary to France.  The entire movie consists of their talking about life while on the train for a few hours and then during a one-night layover in Vienna.  When they part in Vienna the next day, they make some vague plans for a shared future.

Before Sunset picks up the story nine years later, and the entire movie consists of these two characters for 90 minutes catching up with each other and resuming their philosophical conversation.  The movie ends with us not knowing whether the characters would part like they did in Before Sunrise or stay together.

Before Midnight (2013) picks up the story nine years later.  The first part of the movie starts like the other two, with Hawke and Delphy having the same sort of philosophical conversation, but it doesn’t ring true because, as we quickly learn, they’ve been together since Before Sunset, and old couples shouldn’t sound so freshly interested in each other’s thoughts.  In the middle part of the movie, some additional characters are allowed into the conversation, and their conversation sounds pretentious and almost too articulate (sort of like Aaron Sorkin writing West Wing) until you learn that the additions are literary types.

But the end of the movie saves everything.  Instead of making eloquent speeches about the meaning of life, Hawke and Delphy engage in a real conversation about their marriage and the concomitant accommodations.  From my perspective, Hawke sounds so much like me and Delphy communicates like several women I have been close to.  Mars and Venus.

Before Midnight was a low-budget movie made in 15 days for $3 million, and grossed $20 million.  As with its two predecessors, the Rotten Tomato critics loved it (98%); the audience not as much (87%).  As with its two predecessors, I give it four stars out of four.  And when the year 2022 approaches, I will be hounding Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater, Hawke, and Delphy for another movie.