Before Midnight

Director: Richard Linklater

Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay

I’ve not seen the first two films in what is now ultimately a trilogy. Before Sunrise (1995, Richard Linklater) and Before Sunset (2004, Richard Linklater) were films I always meant to watch but hadn’t yet got around to actually watching and now I doubt I ever will. Although this is the shortest film I have watched this awards season at just under 2 hours it is the one that has felt the longest and the one I had the most trouble with. It feels so much longer than it really is and that’s not a good thing.Before Midnight

The whole film is comprised of relentless dialogue, mainly from the two leads Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), and yet says remarkably little. The narrative seems to revolve around the tensions in their relationship and a large portion of the film is dedicated to the same argument occurring multiple times in different locations and with increasing ferocity. We don’t even really get to see that much of the beautiful Greek location the family is vacationing in. And I felt like the supporting characters were disappointing. You weren’t really introduced to them at all and they were never developed past being sounding boards for Jesse and Celine’s self-important diatribe.

I’m sure a lot of people enjoyed Before Midnight but I really didn’t – I thought it was a piece of self-indulgent writing and directing that I found a chore to watch. Linklater’s directing style was one that annoyed me. He used hand-held shots to create a voyeuristic sense of intimacy but whenever the shot wobbled (which was often) you were reminded that you were watching something constructed, which ultimately pulled you out of the moment – the complete opposite of the intention behind using a hand-held style in the first place.

It really wouldn’t surprise me if Before Midnight went and won the Oscar because while you can never really guess what way the Academy will go year on year this feels like something they would laud over some other films.


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