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DVD Review: Before Midnight

October 22, 2013

Before Midnight DVD CoverBefore Midnight – A Sony Classics Release

DVD Release Date: October 22nd, 2013

Rated 14A for coarse language and nudity

Running time: 109 minutes

Richard Linklater (dir.)

Richard Linklater (writer)

Julie Delpy (writer)

Ethan Hawke (writer)

Graham Reynolds (music)

Ethan Hawke as Jesse Wallace

Julie Delpy as Céline Wallace

Our reviews below:


Before Midnight DVD Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

After first meeting eighteen years ago while on a train in Vienna, followed by a chance encounter in Paris nine years later, we meet up again with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) over the final day of their summer vacation in Greece.  They talk and have conversations with friends, arguing just like any other couple, as we are again caught in the spell cast by their words.

Audiences first met Jesse and Celine back in the masterful Before Sunrise (1995), and caught up with them again with the excellent sequel Before Sunset (2004).  Now Before Midnight closes this unexpected trilogy from Richard Linklater on a beautiful note, showing us where this couple has ended up in their lives, with their involving dialogue providing an honest and sometimes heartbreakingly accurate portrait of how relationships evolve over the years.  Like the first two films,  Before Midnight is carried by another pair of great performances from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, perfectly picking up where their roles left off and making us genuinely glad to spend more time with these relatable characters.

The DVD includes commentary with Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater, a featurette on the characters and a Q&A with the director and two leads.


Before Midnight DVD Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

The third film in what is now known as the ‘before’ trilogy, Before Midnight is a very genuine look at a relationship of two people in their early 40s, just as the other two were of younger relationships.

The premise of these films, for those of you who don’t know, is this.  In the first, Before Sunrise (1995), Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) met on a train in Vienna and spontaneously spent the evening and night wandering the city and talking with each other.  After losing touch with each other after that one special and unforgettable night, they meet again nine years later in Before Sunset (2004).  Now, in 2013, we are reuniting with them again and find out where they are now.  Each of the films ends with a slightly ambiguous note that leaves where their relationship is heading next open to interpretation and speculation.

The films are beautifully made, and so real.  Watching two people at 23 in the first film, felt so accurate to that age, and by having the same actors come back again and again, we feel them hit 32 and now 41 in the films.  Watching all three sequentially within the span of a week was interesting, since you can see both the changes and similarities in the characters.

Like the previous two, Before Midnight features a fair portion of the film playing out in ‘real time’ so to speak, as well as long shots of Celine and Jesse either walking, or sitting somewhere just talking.  But it is never boring.  What should feel so mundane just doesn’t.  Like a brilliantly written play, we learn about life and relationships through these characters and connect to them.  We become genuinely interested in them enough to actually not mind hearing them talk about the little things and feelings that make up their lives.  Each film is something special, and especially for those who grew up with these characters, Before Midnight will not disappoint.


Before Midnight DVD Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Before Midnight is the third instalment in Richard Linklater’s Before series.  Every nine years, we get a glimpse into the life and romance between the American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French Celine (Julie Delpy), the couple that met on a train in 1995.

Jesse is now divorced, a state that has caused his jealous ex-wife to take custody of his 13-year-old son, Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick).  Jesse, now in a common-law marriage with Celine, has two adorable twin daughters.  He wants to move back to Chicago so he can be closer to Hank, while at the same time live with Celine and their daughters.  However, she likes France and wants to continue living there.  This ongoing argument over Jesse having to choose between families, is putting a storm cloud over their Greek vacation.

Once again, Richard Linklater has created a film where the dialogue and situations are believable. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy continue to play their roles with believable chemistry.  Ever since Before Sunrise, we really care for Jesse and Celine, and are curious as to what happens between the two.  Each film takes a brief yet informative glance into their lives, and things just keep getting more intriguing.  Before Midnight ends on a satisfying note, yet there are still loose ends, suggesting that in nine years we will likely get another glimpse into their lives.  And that is something to look forward to.


Before Midnight DVD Review By Maureen

**** (out of 4)

It’s a rare treat and privilege to see two characters in a film share love and life over an actual eighteen year span.  Audiences were first introduced to the twenty-something American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and France’s Celine (Julie Delpy) on a 24 hour romantic Vienna journey in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise back in 1995.  The young lovers parted with a promise to meet again in six months.

Director Richard Linklater had audiences meet Jesse and Celine again in 2004 in Before Sunset, nine years later when their paths cross in Paris.  Both have moved on with their lives, but it’s obvious deep feelings are still mutual.  It’s not until 2013 in Before Midnight that we finally find out where life has taken Jesse and Celine.  The couple are wrapping up a six week vacation in southern Greece, with their adorable twin daughters.

The scenery is perfect and the friends they are staying with are excellent conversationalists.  The scenes at the outdoor dinner table provide some wonderful dialogue on love and relationships.  It’s when Jesse and Celine take a night to themselves at a local hotel that the couple are finally able to say to each other all the things, good and bad, that have been left unsaid.  Their scenes together are incredibly raw and believably touching.

Before Midnight works exceptionally well thanks to the strong chemistry between the two leads.  This film feels like a beautifully written and perfectly framed stage play.  The dialogue is superb and the acting wonderful.  If possible, Jesse and Celine’s story is best seen as a trilogy.  However, Before Midnight is a perfect film on its own, and is worth seeing for the performances and realistic love story.


Before Midnight DVD Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

Before Midnight is one film that I could not recommend unless you have already seen the previous films in the series: Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), that I finally watched recently for the first time. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) first met on a train and spent the day together in Vienna in the first film, then reconnected in Paris in the second. In this film, they are on the last day of a summer vacation in Greece, guests of a renowned elderly author and his partner (retired cinematographer Walter Lassally and Xenia Kalogeropoulou), along with a middle-aged couple (Yannis Papadopoulos and Athina Rachel Tsangari) and with the host’s grandson and his girlfriend (Panos Koronis ind Ariane Labed).

Without giving too much away, I can say that the first part of the film deals with children and preparations for the final meal of the adults together. The second part is the meal itself featuring a frank and lively discussion of relationships among the four generations of couples. Finally the last part, as in the previous films, concentrates on Jesse and Céline themselves.

In the tradition of Eric Rohmer, the first two films featured smart dialogue and passion between the very attractive leads, gradually revealing details of their lives before and between their meetings. Before Midnight updates their relationship, along with characters whose discussions rival the best of what Woody Allen or Denys Arcand have given us. It was a privilege to finally catch up with these films.


Consensus: Finishing the trilogy that began with Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, Before Midnight is another beautifully written portrait of a relationship, with involving dialogue and excellent performances from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  **** (Out of 4)

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