June 22, 2013

Before Midnight (2013)

Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

I recently had a conversation about the Harry Potter books and why they were so much better than the more recent young adult series that have spawned franchises (think: Twilight, Hunger Games). Someone pointed out to me that the Harry Potter books seemed to grow in maturity as they went along. It makes sense - 10 years pass between the publication of the first and last books, and Harry ages 6 years. The fact that the writing and the story lines seem to keep pace with Harry's maturity speaks volumes about J.K. Rowling's talent. It's also why the books remain interesting, even though each one seems to grow equally in length.

So what does Harry Potter have to do with this movie? A lot, actually. For anyone not familiar with the Before series, the movies don't come out on the heels of one another, making the general public sick with the over-saturation of its characters (again, think Twilight). When Before Sunrise was released in 1995, there was no indication that there would even be a sequel. So when Before Sunset came out in 2004, it was both surprising and exciting. (And terrifying - everyone know sequels are generally a disappointment.) It was also the only sequel I've ever liked more than the original.

Then came the trailer for Before Midnight and I felt both stupidly excited and again, apprehensive. I regretted my decision for about the first 20 minutes of the film because frankly, it was boring and I thought maybe Richard Linklater was just trying to milk a few extra dollars from sappy suckers like myself. But then I remembered that all the movies were slow starters and if I could just endure a long monologue from Jesse about whatever book he was working on next, the movie would be worth it. (Seriously, though, why do the movies keep doing this? Is it supposed to bring an added element of depth? Is it to test the resilience of the audience?)

It was worth it. Like those Harry Potter books, the topics in the film grew up and related to an audience that had maybe grown up alongside these movies. It gave a lot of the familiar and beloved aspects of the previous movies - beautiful scenery, dynamic dialogue, and large portions of real-time action. It truly is amazing how watching two people just talk can be so interesting. Some people may find it boring, but I think this makes Richard Linklater a genius. It's like watching a play but with way better set design. 

I don't know how to say much more about the movie without delving into a deep conversation about all three movies (because they are really all inter-related), but I will say that the relate-ability and real-ness (yes, I'm just making up words now) of the characters and their lives is what makes this movie so good. Unless of course, you live in a problem-free world or only enjoy movies with the depth of Blue Crush. (No disrespect to Blue Crush, but the only thoughts it provokes are: "should I be working out more?" and "isn't that guy Warner from Legally Blonde?")

Final word: Satisfying for fans of the previous movies in the series. Skews more toward a slow dialogue about relationship issues for those who aren't.

Watch the series from the beginning - it will help add context for the subsequent movies.

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