Before Midnight (R)

Drama 108 May 24, 2013
By Stephanie Zacharek
For many people, particularly those who were in their twenties at the time of its release, Richard Linklater's 1995 Before Sunrise-- in which Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke play young tourists who fold a lifetime of romance (and plenty of arguing) into one night--is one of those secret movies we keep in our pockets like lucky coins. For others, 2004's Before Sunset, which reunites Hawke's Jesse and Delpy's Celine in Paris and ends with one hell of a cliffhanger, is the treasure. Now along comes the painfully articulate Before Midnight. Proceed with caution, tissues, and possibly wearing armor. Here, Celine and Jesse-- now together although not married-- head off to a romantic hotel, free from their kids, where Celine's frustrations explode in a diatribe melding thousands of years of female oppression with the everyday anxieties of raising twins. She turns on Jesse with such vengeance that she nearly crushes their union. The original tagline for Before Sunrise was "Can the greatest romance of your life last only one night?" Here Celine raises a horrible counterpoint: Can you destroy the person you love most in less than an hour? Her suffering is real; it's her choice of words, their heat-seeking precision, that makes you want to take her by the shoulders and shout “STOP!” Celine does most of the talking, but it's really Hawke's movie-- we see in his eyes how Celine's misery cuts him. Her anguish is his failure. Jesse still dresses and carries himself like a kid, but adulthood has hit him hard, like a crack to the jaw, perhaps just now.
Richard Linklater Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Ariane Labed, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Xenia Kalogeropoulou, Walter Lassally, Yannis Papadopoulos, Panos Koronis Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy Drafthouse Recommends

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