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‘Before Midnight’ offers change of pace in summer sequels

Before Midnight, filmmaker Richard Linklater’s follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, lives up to its predecessors.

Nine years after the last film ended, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their roles as Jesse and Celine, respectively. They are vacationing in Greece with their twin daughters, and the story picks up just as Jesse drops off his son at the airport on the last day of the summer retreat.

The film begins with a bit of time spent with Jesse and Celine’s family and friends, which serves to catch viewers up on some of what has happened in the lead characters’ lives and provide a glimpse of love at all stages of life through one masterfully-crafted dinner sequence.

Soon enough, like the characters themselves, loyal viewers of the trilogy get what they want: some serious alone time between Jesse and Celine.

The rolling cinematography, leading the pair through the historic streets of Greece as they discuss their lives, wonderfully accentuates the topic of conversation – the whole concept of long-lasting love.

Just like the previous two movies, Before Midnight is not a plot-driven film, offering a nice change of pace from the action-packed blockbusters and kiddie flicks dominating the screen this summer.

Before Midnight is, however, dialogue-driven, and that theme of long-lasting love extends throughout the film, literally and figuratively questioning if it is possible in this modern age.

Let’s be clear, though, this movie is not this year’s feel-good sleeper romantic comedy. With the moments of delight and brevity that highlight the film come moments of despair and raw honesty.

As with the first two movies, Hawke and Delpy also share screenwriting credit with Linklater on Before Midnight, something that gives that much more authenticity to the gauntlet of emotions this film draws out.

It is to the credit of the two leads’ acting abilities that the transition from a bit of silliness to intense frustration floats on by without seeming forced.

Seeing Before Sunrise and Before Sunset is not essential to watching Before Midnight, but it does come highly recommended. Following the ups and downs of the two characters and their relationship over three films spanning two decades is without a doubt one of the best cinematic experiences to be offered through American independent cinema.

If you’re looking for a cinematic way to beat the heat or dodge some storms this summer, rent Before Sunset and Before Sunrise, then duck into an air-conditioned theater for Before Midnight. Not all summer sequels have to be filled with choreographed fight scenes or adorable creatures.

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Posted by on June 27, 2013. Filed under Arts and Entertainment,Columns,Movie Reviews,Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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