The “Before” trilogy of films has been far more satisfying to me than any other trilogy over the past 20 years. Before Midnight is an extraordinarily deft and intelligent study of a marriage that is going through changes both good and bad, and how the couple will navigate through it. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are so natural and elegantly suited to each other that you forget that they really aren’t together in real life.
Built really upon four distinct scenes that create back-story, the history of where and what they’ve been doing since we last saw them in Before Sunrise and how each of them are dealing with the stresses of parenthood and their romance. There is the “car scene” where we learn of what’s happened. The “dinner party” is when we begin to understand where they are in their relationship. The “stroll” which cements their love for each other in the viewers eyes and in their own. And then the “hotel room” scene where their marriage fractures and fissures, which, by now are deeply felt by everyone involved. These are two amazing performances for their naturalness and candor. It sometimes feels like we’re eavesdropping, which is a stunning achievement.
Before Midnight, like its predecessors, is deeply romantic, but in a real sense – not some Nicholas Sparks simplistic trope, but in a way of how real people challenge and explore each other: cajoling, needling, hurting, loving, laughing, learning, defending and believing in the eternal love you feel when you meet the right person no matter the differences that do come up.
It’s the best film of 2013 so far. And, sadly, in a class by itself in this summer of Superhero blockbusters. Go see it and be moved.