Movie review: Before Midnight

STARRING: Ethan Hawke, Julie DelpyDIRECTOR: Richard LinklaterTHE SKINNY: Love first bloomed between Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) in the 1995 film Before Sunrise, and now they're married with children.RATING: M18 

Their relationship is stressed by Jesse's desire to return to the US so that he can be closer to his son from a previous marriage. The pair try to talk it out, but end up fighting.

Director Linklater quietly goes about his business being one of America's greatest filmmakers without anyone really noticing.

With works like Dazed And Confused, Waking Life, School Of Rock, A Scanner Darkly and Bernie, he has displayed extraordinary humour, heart and humanity.

The films he's made with Hawke and Delpy have been some of his best work.

Indeed, the continuing story of Jesse and Celine - Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004) and now Before Midnight - would have to be considered one of the great accomplishments in screen history.

All we get are two lovers incessantly flapping their gums, but there's a magic glow around them.

As with all the best fictional characters, they are not simply two random people - they are us. They say the things that we think but are too inarticulate to express so eloquently.

Their feelings are our feelings.

They have grown old as we have grown old.

Spending time with Jesse and Celine in Greece is like downloading wisdom directly into your brain.

They are not wise, they are bonkers.

But then, so are we.

Linklater's genius is in showing how grand we are in our pitiable vulnerability.

The couple's "first world problems" are not treated with cynicism or disdain, but utmost empathy.

Simple human needs are not so simple. Our emotions are deeply important. In fact, they are perhaps the only thing that really matters in the end.

Obviously, I love this.

MOVIE: 5/5

JASON JOHNSONjjohnson@sph.com.sg

After a slew of Hollywood summer blockbusters characterised by loud, fast and explosive flicks in which the story takes a backseat,

Before Midnight is a much welcome reprieve.

Here is a quiet, slow study of a real relationship between a couple.

It has been nine years since Before Sunset and 18 years since Before Sunrise, yet Jesse and Celine remain very magnetic.

This instalment has to be the richest and most poignant of the three. Jesse and Celine are no longer 20-somethings with stars in their eyes and time to wander all night talking about life and books. Gone also is the spontaneity they had.

In these days of love them-leave them situations, Before Midnight celebrates enduring love and long-term relationships.

You can't help but be immersed in the couple's conversations and fights - brilliantly shot in long, unbroken takes.

Celine's concerns of juggling a career and being a hands-on mother, ageing and being taken for granted are issues we can relate to.

As with the earlier films, there is a lot of talking and a lot of truth - not something moviegoers seeking mindless entertainment are used to.

This film makes you look hard at your own life and applaud Linklater's attempt at putting something so intimate onto the big screen.

MOVIE: 4.5/5THE CONSENSUS: A must for those in a relationship, this has to be one of the greatest - and most realistic - love stories told on film.

JOANNE SOHjoannes@sph.com.sg

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