I couldn’t think of a better way to start talking about the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival than to highlight the highly-anticipated Before Midnight, premeiring at the festival later this month. This is the third installment in the ever-engaging story of Jesse and Celine following the beloved Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset(2004). And, what a sweet, satisfying, fulfilling third chapter it is. No matter what beautiful, classic European city they are traversing, no matter what age or point in their lives– the characters of Jesse and Celine stand the test of time.
There are nine years between each one of these films, so there is always an element of mystery and anticipation that is important to the overall experience of the Before films, which is why I chose not to watch the trailer. I didn’t want to know a thing about the last nine years in the lives of these two luckless lovers until I sat down and it revealed itself to me in its entirety. For the sake of other fans, I will refrain from revealing any important details, and because the films are not plot-driven, a lengthy synopsis is not necessary.
We find Jesse and Celine nine years older and in Greece. Unlike its predecessors, Before Midnight introduces us to several new characters, all of whom lend certain insights about who the idealistic-leaning, intellectually-driven writer from Texas and the cynically-leaning, intellectually-driven environmentalist from Paris have become.
For some fans the sequel to Before Sunrise ruined whatever ending they conjured up for the couple in their own minds or the uncertainty they found so promising. Certainly with every additional chapter the mystery and the need for imagination fades, but the wonderful thing is that the characters come alive again. They are awaken, no longer just a memory, and are more alive, colorful and real than ever.
Director Richard Linklater, and stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke seem to have invested whole-heartedly on artistic and personal levels to not only keep these characters and this story breathing, but to do so as honestly and faithfully as possible.
Before Sunset and Before Midnight are true, worthy, nearly perfect companions to the original. Delpy and Hawke have really stepped up to the plate as screenwriters, with progressions that are so unwavering you forget they had no part in writing the first screenplay. The dialogue is immaculate–as rich, thought-provoking, witty and engaging as ever and there is still something remarkable– a natural, seamless alchemy to Delpy and Hawke’s dynamic on-screen that has evolved, but has not dwindled.