Richard Linklater's Before Midnight is the best film of the year so far. Easiest statement I've made about movies this year. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy return as Jesse and Celine, and this time they are in Greece. Do I need to go over the fact that this is the third film? Ok, fine. They met on a train in Before Sunrise in 1994, and they came back for more in Paris in Before Sunset in 2004.
Midnight opens with the couple driving through Greece to visit friends with their young twins, Ella and Nina, in tow. Jesse just dropped off his son (from a previous marriage) at the airport, and he begins to wonder if maybe he should ask his ex-wife for joint custody. Celine wants nothing more than for Jesse to be near his son, but she doesn't want to move back to Chicago. This is one of the several small arguments the couple gets into throughout the movie.
I am not trying to say that they fight throughout the movie. Jesse and Celine are at a completely new place in their relationship. Because Hawke and Delpy have played these characters twice before (and co-wrote the screenplay with director Richard Linklater), they are one of the most natual couples I've ever seen. They flow seamlessly through conversations, and they aren't afraid to show the evolution of their relationship. The chemistry between Hawke and Delpy is so sweet and alive.
You would think that the quality would diminish after so many years, or that the writing would be lacking compared to the previous chapters. I feel like this one might be my favorite, because it feels like there is more at stake. The Before movies have always been so talky, but they are like a fine wine -- only better with age. The opening scene (set in the car as they drive) is one long continuous take. Candid and romantic in its relaxation. The pair talk about how they wonder if they are good parents and discuss their family life. A similar scene happens about halfway through the movie where they walk and talk about how they see themselves in the future. Celine wonders if they will be married as long as an older relative. She then asks Jesse if he will be able to stand her for another 56 years. I will also like to point out that Delpy is gorgeous as ever. Celine makes comments that she's gotten fat after having two children, but she positively glows throughout the movie.
If Jesse ever leaves her, I will stay with her for 56 more years.