Before Midnight: Beyond happily ever after

Since Before Midnight opened last week, I’ve seen it twice, once by myself and another time with a friend. I felt like I needed time to lose myself in the film first before I watch it with someone else. And I think fans of the Richard Linklater trilogy should do it that way or at least just watch it once alone. It just intensifies the realness of the entire film, which I think is the backbone of this third (and hopefully, final) movie.

Before Midnight (2)

Before Midnight is so painfully real that the feeling of eavesdropping into Jesse and Celine’s conversations and their lives get really uncomfortable this time around. We were talking about how with Before Sunrise/Sunset you were listening in on someone’s date but you didn’t want to tear yourself away because they were talking about deep and beautiful things and it fueled the romantic part of you and made you want to experience even just a tiny piece of that magic. But with Before Midnight, you find yourself in their “best” yet most grounded years. They remain charmed and in love with each other (no matter what Celine says) but reality has finally caught up with them and the arguments are the kinds you wish your parents won’t have (but they probably do) or you wish you won’t have with your significant other (but you probably will have). You’re stuck in your seat wanting to see what happens but you also just want to bolt right out of the theater thinking, “This isn’t what I signed up for. Give me my happy ending!”

You already see signs of things breaking down right from the beginning—from the moment they started arguing in the car about the possibility of moving to Chicago (which Celine concluded out of nowhere) to the dinner table conversation about how relationships eventually end to that explosive hotel room argument and the conversation at the restaurant after.

But if you are a fan of these films, you know you won’t get that happy ending you hope for. This really wouldn’t work as a date movie for those who just started going out. My friend is right to say that you can probably tell a lot about another person after you hear their thoughts about the film but this feels like it would suck the life out of the “honeymoon stage.” But for couples who have been together for a while, this would make a great conversation starter.

It just hits the nail on the head when it comes to exploring what happens after Jesse decided to miss his flight and stay in Paris to be with Celine and eventually, raise their daughters (who by the way look like female version of the twins from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody). You see how juvenile Jesse can still be and how crazy Celine can get. You relate to how frustrated Jesse must be being away from his son but how he can’t be without his girls and you feel for Celine who is struggling with the idea of being a mother and an independent woman who never wants to be subservient to a man, even if she loves him dearly.

In that scene where they were watching the sunset (the one in the photo above), Celine goes: “Still there. Still there. Still there. It’s gone.” It felt representative of how the magic has finally been taken away from their relationship and they were left to deal with what was left.

Before Midnight hurts you where it’s supposed to because it reminds you of how fluid and transitory life and relationships are.

My favorite line has to be from Natalia and sums up what Before Midnight was for me:

“Like sunlight, sunset, we appear, we disappear. We are so important to some, but we are just passing through.”

Screen caps from amphilicite @ Tumblr

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3 responses to “Before Midnight: Beyond happily ever after

  1. Pingback: Free Verse: Promises You Won’t Keep | wanderinggeekette·

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