“Before Midnight” magnifies all the little things; it touches our hearts with love’s true enormity. It’s a familiar idyll: him beside her, talking non-stop, speaking of things they mean and don’t and both. They’re like that, Celine and Jesse. They have turned into more than fictitious characters, into people that we actually care for–evidences of which may be found in the verbal artifice that is the dialogue: Jesse tells Celine, in alarming suspense, that he has something important to tell her. It was our fear that it might be something awful, tragic even–something that will suddenly hamper a possible, life-long relationship.
This achievement is thanks to Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, embodying Jesse and Celine in commendable commitment. They evolve with their characters. Jesse and Celine grow, as witnessed from the first film to the second, and now, the third, but they never really changed by lot. They’re still those two lovers from before; too coward to both take and let the chance slip away. What started in Vienna from before that “Sunrise,” realized in Paris from before the “Sunset,” is made fulfilled here, before the midnight comes. We’re here to talk about marriage and commitments and death; we’re also here to listen in once, quite possibly the last, to whatever it is left to be heard.
For the last two films we are given ambiguous endings, uncertainties which writer-director Richard Linklater used in spectacular taste and which us, the audience, relish. “Before Midnight” doesn’t have one. We know, that whatever happens, they will be able to put up with each other. We’re certain, but ask for ambiguity like its bread or alms. Perhaps because closure means not seeing another film in another decade, and uncertainty, on the contrary, feels ever so close.
RATING: 4 stars (out of 4)