Before Midnight (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
October 14, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Before Midnight” is another delightful film in the series that has done well in capturing the growth of these characters and their relationship as friends and now lovers within the last three decades. For those who enjoy conversational-driven cinema, “Before Midnight” is recommended!
DVD TITLE: Before Midnight
YEAR OF FILM: 2013
DURATION: 109 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: PG (For Mild Thematic Elements and Brief Smoking)
RELEASE DATE: October 22, 2013
Directed by Richard Linklater
Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Characters by Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan
Producer as Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Richard Linklater, Sara Woodhatch
Executive Producer: Liz Glotzer, Jacob Pechenik, Martin Shafer, John Sloss
Co-Producer: Vincent Palmo, Jr. and Athina Rachel Tsangari
Associate Producer: Lelia Andronikou
Line Producer: Kostas Kefalas
Music by Graham Reynolds
Director of Photography: Christos Voudouris
Edited by Sandra Adair
Casting by Christina Akzoti, Alex Kelly
Art Direction by Anna Georgiadou
Costume Design by Vasileia Rozana
Ethan Hawke as Jesse Wallace
Julie Delpy as Celine Wallace
Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Hank Wallace
Jennifer Prior as Ella Wallace
Charlotte Prior as Nina Wallace
Xenia Kalogeropoulou as Natalia
Walter Lassally as Patrick
Ariane Labed as Anna
Yiannis Papadoupoulos as Achilleas
Athina Rachel Tsangari as Ariadni
In 1995, filmmaker Richard Linklater (“Dazed and Confused”, “Before Sunrise”, “Before Sunset”, “Waking Life”) released his film “Before Sunrise” which he co-wrote with Kim Krizan.
The film which was about Jesse (portrayed by Ethan Hawke) and Celine (portrayed by Julie Delpy) meeting on a train from Budapest and the two having a conversation with each other. As the two share time in Vienna, and eventually showing they have mutual attraction with each other and make a promise to meet up with each other six months later.
The film earned Richard Linklater a Silver Bear for “Best Director” at the 45th Berlin International Film Festival and was well-received by film critics for its realism and not being banal like other 20-something romantic films.
In 2004, for the sequel “Before Sunset”, nine years have passed and Jesse had written the novel “This Time” about his time with Celine and becomes an American bestseller.
The film received positive reviews for its use of dialogue and how it goes against traditional American cinema due to its focus on communication.
As Jesse is doing a book tour, his final stop is in Paris and he sees Celine. And the two discuss why they never met six months after they promised. The two discuss their lives as Jesse is married with a son, while Celine has a boyfriend, but both are unhappy with the person they are with. And sure enough, their attraction towards each other is rekindled.
And here we are with the third film in the trilogy, “Before Midnight”. A film written by Linklater and co-written with his two stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
After the events from the second film, we learn that both Jesse and Celine are a couple and have two twin daughters. For Jesse, he says goodbye to his teenage son, Hank, who came to visit him in Greece.
For Jesse, the time away from his son hurts him and unfortunately, it doesn’t help that his relationship with his ex-wife is not good. As the two drive away from the airport, both discuss their lives at work. Jesse as a novelist, Celine working for the French government. But he does worry for his son’s childhood, Celine’s career but Celine sees his worries as a harbinger of the downfall of their relationship.
As the two have lunch with their Greek friends, the group discuss their feelings about love and life and now, they need to spice their relationship up. The people staying at Patrick’s place buy Jesse and Celine a hotel room for the night and as the two are together, the two reminisce about their lives, how they met.
But as they stay at the hotel, the two start to question their relationship and wonder if they will ever have a happy future together.
VIDEO, AUDIO AND SUBTITLES:
“Before Midnight” is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital.
It’s important to remind people that if you want the best video and audio for the film, a Blu-ray release of “Before Midnight” will be released on the same day.
As for the film, the film definitely showcases beauty as it is filmed in Greece and many scenes are shot outdoors. If there is one thing constant with each film in the trilogy thus far, it’s the use of location and setting that makes “Before Midnight” so endearing.
As for audio, this film is primarily dialogue-driven with occasional music, but the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is clear and understandable.
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.
“Before Midnight” comes with the following special features:
- Revisiting Jesse & Celine
- Q&A with Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater – (37:03) A post-screening Q&A moderated by Elvis Mitchell.
- Theatrical Trailer – (1:53) Theatrical trailer for “Before Midnight”.
- Before Midnight Soundtrack – Text promo for the soundtrack
I have been vocal for my appreciation of dialogue-driven films about intelligent conversations. From Eric Rohmer to even Woody Allen films.
Of course, films about long conversations are not for everyone. And for westerners, the idea of a film going against traditional Hollywood practice and following the convention off many cut scenes may not be their cup of tea.
And when it comes to American cinema, there are the Richard Linklater films in the “Before trilogy”, with “Before Sunset” and “Before Sunrise” and now the latest film, “Before Midnight”. A film that did well in the box office, has its following and also a story that was co-written by Linklater and the film’s main talents Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.
The film follows the characters of Jesse (portrayed by Ethan Hawke) and Celine (portrayed by Julie Delpy) who have gone past the physical and sexual attraction to now becoming a couple who have twin children.
Jesse chose to stay in Europe and leave his wife and son and the film begins with Jesse saying goodbye to his son who had a great time staying with his father. It’s quite obvious that his son wants his father in his life and Jesse wanting to be part of his son’s life but since he doesn’t get along with the mother, it’s a bit tough and also because of distance.
And it becomes a discussion that he has with Celine after he sees his son off to the airport to go back to Chicago. And as the films focused on Jesse and Celine in their 20’s, then their 30’s and now in their 40’s, life has changed as Celine wants to have a career and is not wanting to live in Chicago, so Jesse can be closer to his son. Of course, Jesse doesn’t want to be away from Celine and his children but it starts a discussion about where they are as a couple today and where they are as a couple in the future.
By hanging out with friends and seeing various sides of relationship growth, from an older couple, to a couple of the same age and to a couple younger than them, it’s the thought of what one wants to accomplish as a couple, but what one wants to achieve as they get older.
And although the two take part in long conversations and communicate with each other, there are things left unsaid and when they do come out… Let’s just say that I wouldn’t be surprise if there was a fourth film.
I talked to a friend and his thoughts on the film were not to positive as he felt the thought of nostalgia and past romance in a relationship is over-rated.
And it’s OK to feel that way.
I think with these films, especially with “Before Midnight”, the discussion is more about nostalgia about a relationship and how a couple can keep their relationship fulfilling in the future as they try hard to keep things great in the present. But should a couple be in sync, can mindsets be different. Especially how Jesse feels about his son and his wife, being a more independent woman, not wanting to be controlled by a man and focusing on her career. But as they see other couples in sync, they know that their relationship is not in sync.
I know there are some who will say that the Rohmer formula of conversation cinema works when their is focus on intelligent topics. Romance typically not one of them.
I think, and it’s my opinion, while other dialogue films discuss things about art, culture and other highbrow discussions, for Linklater’s films, this one…it goes into the worry of keeping romance alive in your older age. I suppose we all hear it as we get older from friends about how things were great in their 20’s, how sex was better before children or before they got older and other topics I suppose older couples discuss in their 30’s, 40’s or whichever age they me in their later lives.
It’s truthful conversation and the way it is presented in “Before Midnight” is real and I absolutely find it delightful. Of course, it comes down to one if they find it entertaining to watch it on screen. While some will find it great to be part of the nostalgia of growing up with these characters, there are those who may find the topic of enhancing love as a couple when you’re older to be tiring because perhaps in their relationship, the spark has long burned out or it’s getting there.
As for the DVD, as mentioned, if you want beautiful picture quality, the Blu-ray release is the way to go. Especially for this film which was shot in Greece and has many outdoor scenes. But DVD picture quality and audio is good. There are a good amount of special features included, such as audio commentary and a post-screening Q&A and more.
Overall, “Before Midnight” is another delightful film in the series that has done well in capturing the growth of these characters and their relationship as friends and now lovers within the last three decades. For those who enjoy conversational-driven cinema, “Before Midnight” is recommended!
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