Before Midnight


The stories of love that we all grow-up with seldom want to dig deeper. The stories of love that we all grow-up with seldom want to tell us the truth. They are pleased as punch to deliver meet-cutes, or tantalizing displays of physical affection…but they never want to go further. They never want to talk about what love evolves into as years pass; as partners become parents.

So when that sort of film comes along, it’s bound to garner some attention. When that film comes along and it’s about as tantalizing a couple as Celine and Jesse, it’s destined to become an all-time great.

What we have here is a film that dares to write several more chapters after the words “…happily ever after”. It sits us all down and tells us what would have happened if we’d emailed that boy back, or if we’d taken the same train as that girl. What would have happened is that things would have been wonderful – for a while. Then things would have got tough. What then? What’s worth talking about? What’s worth fighting over? And what’s worth letting go of the pride and one-upsmanship that paints most of our arguments?

This decade has seen Richard Linklater deliver a pair of truly indelible films already, and for me this is the more affecting of the two. Perhaps it’s because it’s a counterpoint to the doe-eyed romanticism of its eighteen year-old origin story. Or perhaps it’s because it sneers at the immediacy of its nine-year old predecessor. That’s the part that takes real balls – saying that eventually there won’t be a train departing, or a flight taking off. Eventually you will have all. the time. in the world. What then?

We may not have followed Celine and Jesse for eighteen years, but we feel as though we have. When they don’t fill in the gaps for us, we can imagine who they were and what they did. As we do, we realize we care about them – we care about them so much that we are willing to listen to their adult insecurities and listen to their anger…uncomfortable as it all may be.

There’s a lot of talk about wistful romance in this movie, and much of the talk revolves around what that turns into and what it all means in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps it’s because the movie doesn’t want us to forget why we fall in love in the first place. Perhaps it wants us to be realistic about what love turns into. And perhaps, it’s because it wants us to understand that sometimes true love is worth fighting for.


Click below for my original review of BEFORE MIDNIGHT, and feel free to leave comments with your thoughts on this film and its place in the decade so far.


WIST copy