The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Why I want to grow old with the Before series

with 21 comments


Perhaps it’s just an age thing, but I think the Before series only gets better with each new installation.

It could of course be as simple as that it’s easier for me to recognize myself in them in the later installations. Jesse and Celine were almost in the age of my children in Before Sunrise. In Before Midnight on the other hand, they’re about my own age, perhaps just a couple of years younger. This makes me feel a lot closer to them. The life issues they’re struggling with are issues that I can understand.

But I think it’s more than just identification that makes the movies better and better. It’s also a question of how they develop and grow over time. With every new conversation a new layer is added. Do you remember the introduction to the symphony orchestra in Moonrise Kingdom, where one instrument after another is introduced? That’s how those movies run. And like in a symphony, there are melodies that keep coming back, but different every time.

Celine and Jesse keep growing.  If they were like a simple house wine in the first film, nice and easy to drink, but not overly complicated, they have matured into something far deeper, more complex, with a full body and more tannin when we meet them now. And the older they get, the more do I like them. It’s the same as with trees. They’re not particularly interesting when they’re young and newly planted. But over time they develop a personality and they become rooted.  Wrinkles are to humans what annual rings are to trees.

In the middle of this love letter to Before Midnight I must admit that I did notice one little dissonance in my experience of it. It didn’t by any means ruin the movie for me, but I had to wrestle with it a little before I could accept it. What bothered me was that I did notice some tendencies of stereotyping differences between men and women. You know in the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” style, which I find pretty annoying. But after having a conversation with myself I found that I could accept it. After all: the movie doesn’t advocate this view on men and women; it just shows two people who are products of their upbringing. Perhaps I’m prejudiced, but I imagine that neither France, nor US is far progressed in this area. So it only reflects the time and the culture. I don’t need to agree with what they say.

That’s it though. I don’t have any other criticism against it. It’s a wonderful film in a wonderful series, which more and more is turning into a version of Scenes from a Marriage, but in a modern setting.

Richard Linklater refuses to say if there will be another Before movie or not. It’s not because it’s a secret; he doesn’t know himself yet. But I’m already hoping and waiting for another movie. The nine year countdown has started. And after that I hope there will be another one made, in 18 years. And then yet another, in 27 years.

It would continue like this, until we get the final film, at a point where Celine and Jesse will be like the couple in Haneke’s Amour. I wonder how I’ll feel about that one, provided that I’m still alive to see it. Will the reminder about my own aging and imminent death as I see their aging be too painful for me to watch? Or will the annual rings that I’ve grown over the years provide a skin think enough to protect me? I don’t know yet, as little as Jesse and Celine knew what awaited them as they met on the train so many years ago. But I’m willing to make the journey with them.

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater US 2013) My rating: 5/5

Written by Jessica

November 7, 2013 at 1:00 am

Posted in Before Midnight

21 Responses

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  1. Fantastic piece. I love these films and I’m really glad you thought the latest one was great too, some people haven’t taken to it as much. I wonder if they’ll leave it as a trilogy or if, as you suggest, they might just keep going and going until they, and we, are old.

    Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop

    November 7, 2013 at 9:35 am

    • Thank you! The expectations before this movie were huge. I can imagine that they were just too big for some people. No movie could possibly match that imaginary ideal film they had in mind.


      November 7, 2013 at 10:33 pm

  2. I’ve yet to see the third on, Jessica, but wouldn’t it be great if it went as far as the likes of Amour. That would be quite an accomplishment in cinema.

    Mark Walker

    November 7, 2013 at 9:57 am

    • I wish they’ll keep coming. But I realize the difficulties. It’s not just that the director needs to keep working; he’s also depending on the two actors. If either of the gets ill or quits the acting career for some reason, this will also mean the deinite end to the series.


      November 7, 2013 at 10:30 pm

  3. Great review. If ‘Le Week-End’ plays near you I would recommend you go see it. It reminded of this series a lot. Would love to hear your thoughts on that one too.


    November 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    • Thank you! I watched another great talkie last year, named Weekend, but it was English, no “Le”, so I reckon it’s not the same. Anyway if it’s anywhere nar as good as Weekend was, Le Weekend wil suite me fine.


      November 7, 2013 at 10:29 pm

  4. Gorgeous piece, Jessica. I’m actually feeling a bit teary–eyed after finishing this post. I haven’t seen any of them, but now I will do so definitely, as soon as I can.


    November 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    • Awww. Thank you! You have quite something to look forward to.


      November 7, 2013 at 10:34 pm

  5. Great post, Jess. I absolutely love this trilogy. I need it on Blu-Ray!


    November 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    • Thank you! It’s wonderful. Since I don’t have a Blue Ray player, DVD will do for me.


      November 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      • Any medium, actually. Those movies are fantastic. The first one is hard to top for me, though.


        November 8, 2013 at 6:17 am

  6. I’m a huge fan of this series but I have to say I left this film feeling a little disappointed. This was the only movie of the three where I felt as if the was a script. The first two were so crisp and fluid. I honestly felt as though I were watching two people share their souls with one another. There were moments in this film where I never felt that.

    There was also this weird preoccupation with sex jokes. Regardless of who the conversation was with or where they were at, there are these constant injections of sexual comments or jokes. Some of them felt natural with the conversations but others felt out of place. They felt weird and a bit forced upon the conversations.

    And then there’s the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything but let’s just say I had a couple of problems with how it concluded. It really left me scratching my head.

    But don’t misunderstand me, I still enjoyed the film and I still love these characters. But for me, this film wasn’t nearly as enthralling as the other two.


    November 7, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    • Different opinions are available, allowed and even encouraged. Cheers for dropping by, joining the conversation!


      November 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      • Sure thing! Always appreciate your posts! Keep ’em comin’! 🙂


        November 7, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    • Yes I agree I was very disappointed with this one. Some of the dialogue in the group scenes especially, seemed forced including the many sex jokes.


      November 9, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      • OK. I don’t agree. However there as an element of stereotyping over genders that bothered me a bit, as I mentioned in the review.


        November 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm

  7. I’m not sure I agree with you (no surprise there, perhaps ;)) I felt that they in some respects had become less interesting in this movie. More relatable, perhaps, but the things they discussed were the same mundane everyday crap that almost all people deal with. Angry ex:es and how to keep a good relationship with your estranged kids isn’t that much different even if they are continents apart. I still hold the second movie as the best of the lot.


    November 8, 2013 at 8:44 am

  8. Unsurprisingly, I loved it too. Took a while to put its hooks in me but at the end of the movie it most certainly had me.

    And you’re right, there is the age issue. I watched the first movie when I was about the age of the characters and absolutely loved it ( even recommending it 😉 ).


    December 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    • I’m not surprised that we’re on the same page. In a different year it might have topped my top 10 list, but this year has been exceptional so the competition will be hard. Still a very good one.


      December 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm

  9. […] 3. Before Midnight With every conversation another layer is added. I want to grow old with the Before-movies. […]

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