‘Before Midnight’, Before Life Is Gone
It has been 18 years since the first movie in the series – Before Sunrise. Love that movie because it is simple, no fuss yet intellectual. The otherwise typical Hollywood flicks often don’t stir enough interest in me… although I vaguely remember what they talked about in the movie. At some point, I questioned the possibility of two strangers just making conversation that reveals their personal lives just like that. I remember thinking, in movies, anything and everything is possible. Little did I know that it could really happen due to karmic affinity. Karma works in a mysterious way. It brings people together and it breaks people up as well. Well, technically so, though we are responsible after all, for what kind of karma we create.
Fast forward to 18 years later, Jesse (played by Ethan Hwake) and Céline (played by Julie Delpy) finally got together and even have beautiful twin daughters. One thing unusual about this installment of the trilogy is that it is not solely based of the couple’s conversations. The writers (including Ethan and Julie) decide to inject other people’s conversations, making this movie somewhat more interesting? Sadly, if it is without the part with Jesse talking about his new book, or the conversation at the dinning table with a group of their vacationing friends, this movie would turn out rather typical.
I mean… Why would I want to pay to watch a couple arguing and quarreling about kids, career and their ‘miserable’ lives? Celine, a working mother and feminist, she’s not the typical laidback wife and mother but has existential insecurities. She’s not afraid to speak her thoughts aloud, not afraid to fight for what she wants, showing no mercy at challenging her husband’s ideas and even his love for her. Basically, someone who won’t shut up until she finishes saying what she wants to say. A very good portrayal of what many modern women have become? However, too attached a feminist perhaps, such that the writers have to inject some constant worrying, suspicion and discontentment.
Throughout the entire movie, I have no idea what Céline wants. She seems to be picking on every little thing Jesse says. Their conversations revolved around her unhappiness and fretting of her future. She even seemed to be persuading Jesse to leave her. Especially in the scene where they watched the sun setting together, it somewhat suggests that she was anticipating for something to pass. Flashback to the dining scene, Natalie (played by Xenia Kalogeropoulou) described how she felt about her deceased husband using similar imagery… ‘Like sunlight, sunset, we appear, we disappear. We are so important to some, but we are just passing through.’
If there’s anything I learnt from the movie, it is probably not about how unconditionally Jesse loves Céline or how much Céline had sacrificed for the family, but the very line that Natalie uttered. It is the very line that strikes to the core to our life and our relationships with our loved ones. No matter how loving or bad a relationship it, it will always passes by. Philosophising too much won’t make you any wiser or happier. It’s contentment and appreciation that gives you a simpler yet loving life.
Movie trivia…When Celine uttered ‘Still there’ four times during the sunset, and ends with ‘Gone’, does it sort of indicate that this would be the second last movie? What is to come after midnight?