Sunday 15 December 2013

Before Midnight

Before Midnight                                                                                   
Perhaps inevitably, Before Midnight compares unfavorably with its predecessors, Before  
Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004). But then the giddy rush of romantic teen love 
found, then thought lost forever but rekindled again ten years later, is bound to be more 
exciting, enthralling, entertaining and life-affirming than the tetchy complications of 
middle-aged partners-for-life. Also, although it was probably difficult for director Richard 
Linklater to avoid at this stage, the opening out of Celine’s (Julie Delpy) and Jesse’s (Ethan 
Jawke) obsessive dialoguing to include Other Characters, however minor, may not have sat 
well with purist devotees of the series. And yet…the third installment of this on-going 
project (it seems presumptuous to call it a trilogy since, all being well, who’s to say there 
won’t be a part four, five or even six – Linklater’s spin on Haneke’s Amour, anyone? – ?) 
has much to recommend it. Celine and Jesse are our friends by now, after all, and while 
their squabblings in sunny Greece may verge at times on the tediously generic, they are 
still a long way from the soft-focus bourgeois boredom of Home Counties twits having an 
eternity of ennui in Provence or a cocked-up summer in Chiantishire. Moreover, there is 
something innovatively compelling about revisiting these characters in almost real time, in 
terms both of the elapse of years and the frameworks of the discrete films. As is by now 
customary, we terminate on a cliffhanger. See you again in 2022, or thereabouts? 

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