“Can you be my friend for two seconds, so we can talk about this?” Jesse to Celine
What a gamble! What a pay-off! Can you think of a trilogy on an upward trajectory? (Maybe Connery’s first three Bonds: DR NO - FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE - GOLDFINGER). Not only that, where no part has misfired, and the final two segments are arguably fault-less? Exactly. High five team Linklater-Delpy-Hawke, high-f*cking-five. BEFORE SUNRISE was an enjoyable romance. BEFORE SUNSET blew me away. As I sat down to watch BEFORE MIDNIGHT my stomach churned, as immeasurable excitement mixed with trepidation. Could lightning be bottled twice? Rest easy peeps, they’ve done it again.
Vienna, Paris, and now Messinia, Greece – specifically the village of Kardamyli. We meet Hank straight away, as Jesse (Ethan Hawke) takes his son to the airport to return him to his ex-wife after an implied sublime summer vacation. It’s slightly awkward. They have lived in different continents for a long time, and the relationship between former spouses is fractious. Putting Hank on the plane sets in motion a day that feels as epic as any war flick, but one that involves talking for 108 glorious minutes. If you’re a fan of the SUNRISE and SUNSET, the latter is of no surprise.
“Ella, this is a family apple; I’m teaching you the value of sharing,” Jesse
Where is Celine (Julie Delpy)? My heart was in my guts, hoping that he had indeed missed his flight at the end of the previous instalment. Awaiting him outside the airport, with their twin daughters, is Celine. A wave of euphoria washed over me. Their conversation in one long take as they drive back to the writers’ retreat, where their six week holiday is about to end, and they return to Paris, sets the template for long scenes effortlessly and naturally constructed; discussing relationships, mostly theirs. And that might sound dull, or riddled with narcissism, but the brilliant script and charm-fuelled performances mean the opposite.
Now in their early 40s, and together properly for nearly a decade, gone (at first glance) is the dance of seduction and seismic attraction. There is an exploration of long-term ardour, parenthood and happiness. All done with humour, passion and pathos. These ingredients might have turned out too rich, or over-baked, but in the adroit hands of the filmmakers, it is a tasty, satiating cinematic meal. And what an ending.
My first contender for favourite film of 2013.