Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Before Midnight: Monday, June 10 2013

Before Midnight is the last episode of a Trilogy. Before Sunrise, the first episode (1995), is about Celine, a young French woman, (Julia Delpy) and Jesse, a young American man, (Ethan Hawke) meeting accidentally on a train in France, disembarking and spending the night walking around Vienna getting to know each other well. Before Sunset, the second episode (2004), has the couple meeting up again, and leaves Jesse deciding whether to return to his wife and son in America, or remain with Celine in Paris. Before Midnight, the third episode, is nine years later, showing what choice Ethan made. The couple have spent a wonderful summer in Greece, and the movie ends up, as the trilogy began, with the couple chatting the night away, totally honest with each other.

Co-written by Julia Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and director Richard Linklater, the dialogue is brilliant and kept me, and my friends Karen and Andrea, fascinated. I wouldn't have believed I could be so entertained by a film in which the main characters simply talk to each other. No action, no special effects, not too much happening really.

It was my good fortune to see this film with my friend Karen, and her friend, Andrea. They are both into psychology, and the Enneagram system of character analysis. The cleaning staff had to throw us out of the Cineplex as we were so engrossed in discussing Celine and Jesse, and trying to fit them into the system. We spent another twenty minutes at least outside, discussing what was taking place in each of the characters, and in their dynamics with each other. It shows how realistic the actors made Celine and Jesse, that we were treating them as if they are real people, not creations of the imagination.

What this film also gives is a perspective into the way people think nowadays about relationships. I liked the honesty between them. I liked that they were not in the straight jacket created by any cultural or moral system, but were acting with integrity, from out of their characters. I hope for a sequel as I would like to know what they decided to do to resolve the challenges to their relationship.

I was left with questions. Is this modern way of being, where people are honest with each other, better than when they were locked into a cultural system where they each had a role to play? What effect does it have on children when parents separate before the children are leading their own lives? Does it, perhaps, cause the children to learn to accept life as it is, and make the best of it? What emotional cost does this lack of established roles have on people? Is this less than the emotional cost of having to stick together because of social norms?


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