It has been almost two decades since moviegoers became entranced by the whirlwind romance of American tourist Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French student Celine (Julie Delpy).
This 2013, moviegoers are able to watch Before Midnight, the much awaited sequel to the romantic dramas Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004).
In Before Sunrise, Jesse and Celine met by chance in Budapest on a Vienna-bound train. They spend the night strolling around Vienna talking. Before they part, they make an agreement to meet in Vienna six months later.
Their follow-up movie, Before Sunset, shows that Jesse and Celine did not meet up in Vienna but their paths crossed again several years later. By that time, Jesse was married and Celine was in a relationship with someone else. The movie was open-ended since Celine uttered the famous line, “Baby, you’re gonna miss that plane,” while it was not shown whether Jesse decided to take the plane back to the United States or stay with Celine in Europe.
Before Midnight indicates that Jesse and Celine are now married but they are currently in Greece, where they are on vacation with their twin girls.
Just like the two previous instalments, moviegoers become privy to the intimate (not to mention long) conversations between Jesse (Ethan) and Celine (Julie).
In Before Midnight, director Richard Linklater was able to show how Jesse and Celine have matured over the years and how they are handling the challenges of middle-age including keeping that romantic spark between them alive. This is way different from the love stories depicted in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, which both showed romantic and passionate scenarios in a foreign city.
Now that they are married with young twins Ella and Nina, Jesse and Celine have to talk long and hard about the future of their family.
Jesse is torn between moving back to the United States so he can be closer to his son Hank whom he sired from his first marriage. Meanwhile, Celine wants to accept a job offer in France.
Some of the most entertaining dialogue come during their dinner with several couples and widowed partners who give their observations about love among different generations and how to make long-term relationships work. The conversation becomes even more animated as they talk openly about sex.
Ironically, the most hurtful dialogue between the bickering couple take place in a hotel room where they are supposed to have alone time away from their twins.
For the first few minutes, they both seem primed for some intimacy but it all goes downhill when they start arguing.
Watching the two lovers trade barbs can be compared to a heated tennis match where they throw out the resentment and frustrations they have been harbouring all these years.
Ethan and Julie have the gift of being able to captivate the attention of viewers even though all they seem to do is talk and talk and talk some more. Their dialogue flows naturally and their body language express more than what their words can convey.
Julie comes off as particularly aggressive as she makes a stand regarding her own career ambitions. Ethan, for his part, remains just as charming as he was in previous installments.
The two stars also share writing credits with director Linklater for the captivating screenplay that can be considered the most authentic and realistic among the three installments.
Before Midnight will satisfy fans of Celine and Jesse’s love story, especially those who are questioning the very nature of romance, commitment and passion.
Will there be a fourth installment to this saga? Only time will tell.
But one thing is for sure, moviegoers will be reminded once again that in love and in life, it is always best to make good use of the little time we have together with our loved ones.
Before Midnight opens in Philippine cinemas on July 10, 2013.