Before Midnight
4/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Richard Linklater
scr Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
prd Christos V Konstantakopoulos, Richard Linklater, Sara Woodhatch
with Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Walter Lassally, Panos Koronis, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Yannis Papadopoulos, Ariane Labed, Xenia Kalogeropoulou, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior, Enrico Focardi
release US 24.May.13, UK 21.Jun.13
13/US 1h48
Before Midnight
An 18-year stroll: Delpy and Hawke

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Before Midnight Nine years later, we again catch up with Jesse and Celine, who have been together since we last saw them. As before, Linklater, Hawke and Delpy find marvellous fluidity as we follow this couple around a Greek island, listening to a conversation that's hilarious, emotional and powerfully resonant.

Jesse and Celine (Hawke and Delpy) are at the end of a six-week holiday in Greece. Jesse's 13-year-old son Hank (Davey-Fitzpatrick) is returning to his bitter mum in Chicago, while they prepare to go home to Paris with their 7-year-old twins (Jennifer and Charlotte Prior). Celine is getting ready for a big new job, but Jesse is wondering whether they should think about moving to America to be closer to Hank. And it's this disparity that sparks an extended conversation about their future.

Where the first film explored 23-year-olds' opinions about religion and art, and the second touched on 32-year-olds' feelings about politics and social issues, these 41-year-olds are approaching middle age wondering about their life choices. They clearly still have a passion for each other and their children, but is this enough to sustain their relationship over the coming decades? Both their easy banter and their bitter recriminations are so truthful that the film is sometimes hard to watch.

Hawke has settled into Jesse's skin as a writer who thinks deeply and works out his feelings through his art. Meanwhile, Celine is essentially the same character Delpy always plays: an emotionally driven woman preoccupied with the demands of life and using her sharp wit to express herself. Their chemistry together is raw and real, both in the gently romantic moments and the darkly painful arguments.

As before, Linklater follows them in long, beautifully shot takes. Their interaction is hugely entertaining not just because it's sparky and perhaps too clever, but because we recognise ourselves in both of them. This is a film about hopes and fears, memories of events that have made us who we are and curiosity about where we are going from here. And through this 18-year relationship, albeit interrupted, we can see important clues about how to plot a positive route through the minefield. So where they will be at 50?

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 26.Mar.13

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