The film Before Midnight (starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) is the thinking person’s Rom-Com. While the comedy is more Theater of the Absurd, the romance is more realistic and grown-up than the typical pap delivered by Hollywood films.
If you’re a fan of the Before trilogy you know that this is the third film in a series about Jesse and Celine, who first meet on a train in Before Sunrise (1995). In that film they get off the train in Vienna and walk around all night talking about life, love and things big and small. They are attracted to each other physically and intellectually and establish an intimacy through conversation rather than through sex. They agree to meet again in six months.
In the second film, Before Sunset (2004), they meet again 9 years later in Paris. Jesse is at Shakespeare and Company bookstore reading from a novel he wrote about his meeting with Celine on the train when he spies her in the audience. She has since become an environmental activist. They wander around Paris talking deeply again before he has to leave in an hour on a plane back to the US. Their passions are re-kindled through that conversation.
In this third film, nine years after the last one, they are middle-aged with twin daughters together and are at a writer’s retreat in Greece. And again, conversation is the main weapon in the film. It feels spontaneous and yet is choreographed as beautifully as a ballet.When they argue their words fly and strike like dueling swords. Their themes are passion, aging, fading beauty, equality in relationships, and their differing roles as parents.
The director, Richard Linklater is American, but the films feel European. Linklater, Delpy and Hawke collaborated together on all of the scripts and Delpy wrote several of the songs in the films. Delpy is amazing. She still looks like a beautiful blonde French ingénue, yet she is a serious and talented actress, writer, singer, and director. I actually her prefer her own Two Day movies (Two Days in Paris/Two Days in New York) to the Before trilogy. But Before Midnight is in theaters right now, so catch it and see if it makes you agree that the brain is our sexiest organ. Here's hoping there are more sequels. Before Retirement, maybe? Or Before the Nursing Home?