Dear Before Midnight (Rick’s Take),
In the storied history of this vision of two people and their life and love, the high note it starts on with Before Sunrise, represents an epiphany of the human heart and a bold examination the force of nature of young love. It is, in my estimation, perhaps the finest example of this most impetuous and powerful form of romance yet put to screen. It just rings so true.
But then there is the continuation of the story nine years later through its second revelation, and it is all that life always is, poignant and moving, confessing and proving. He has his dreams and then she sings the waltz and Jesse and I melt on the floor, as we both know that there still is magic. My much more in-depth treatise of your first two films can be found here.
But now again nine years later there is the denouement of this glorious masterpiece of human filmmaking. As we open to Jesse (Ethan Hawke) taking his son to the airport I am again immediately immersed in the everyday that is these lives. Maestro director Richard Linklater drops us in as he always does, seamlessly. Of course it strikes me that Jesse/Ethan Hawke has aged well, but aged nonetheless. It is a reminder of time flown by. But then in that moment I also realize that nearly enough time has elapsed that a real generation has been born and nearly grown since our odyssey began in early 1995.
Then we see Celine (Julie Delphy) leaning against a car talking on the phone and I almost lean forward to see that she too has aged, but is still beautiful in that timeless European way and I drink her in. As this tapestry of humanity then proceeds to again unveil in front of me, I recall all the deep places this vision, these people and their experiences have touched within me. I remember so vividly that passion of young love and the holding of hope deep in my soul that paralleled these individuals in their journey to adulthood and the connection I have still – in my own middle age – to them that is beyond visceral and real in all the ways that count most. That’s its brilliance, being a true slice of how real life is and treating all the extremes from its towering romance to its grounded realism, in ways that all humans can identify with.
As before, we take a journey and as with each of the first two films, it is a journey wholly familiar yet quite surprising and from the outset, the journey engages me completely from beginning to end and without divulging where it takes me, I will say it is the only trilogy I have ever seen where the vision and execution is peerless throughout. All three are an intrinsic part of a whole and Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy have created that rare and coveted movie magic that is so often reserved for the legends of black and white film making. No, this is as good as romance and real life filmmaking get and I am out of accolades.
Celine and Jesse, I will forever hold you close to my heart, covet that which you found and visit with you as often as I can to remember what is good and right and real about love.
Always and Unwavering