Some things have a natural rhythm, like the tides (approximately every 6 hours) or the cicadas (every 17 years) or the planet Jupiter (every 12 years). But, I digress. Before Midnight is the third of a trilogy of films, on a cycle of nine years. "Before Sunset" was released in 1995 and "Before Sunrise" in 2004. Not only did I not see the first two films, I knew nothing about them. However, apparently, there is a following. Nine years between films demands a devoted fan. Heck, even Harry Potter released a film every year or two.
Once again the New York Times raved, “That kind of uncertainty, a scary fact of life, is something most movies avoid. We prefer the magical thinking of neat endings, tidy plots and clear character arcs. Before Midnight” is a wonderful paradox: a movie passionately committed to the ideal of imperfection that is itself very close to perfect." I beg to differ.
The story line starts with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delfy) meeting and having a brief tryst on a train on the way to Vienna in "Before Sunset". Then in "Before Sunrise", they meet again, nine years later, only he is married with a son but apparently then they realize there is still serious some chemistry lingering, because "Before Midnight" opens with Jesse seeing his son off at the airport (to go home to his ex-wife) and then he gets in the car with Celine and their gorgeous twin daughters.
In full disclosure, having not seen the first two films, I may be missing a major point of the plot here. However, from the time Jesse gets in the car with Celene at the airport in Greece, the dialogue is one of shatter that evolves to bickering and toward the end is just a serious argument between two middle age adults who share two beautiful daughters and a romantic past, but question their future. Who doesn't?
To make the film interesting, Jesse is an author and (from what I could glean) his first best seller's main character was based on his brief affair with Celine. The entire film is based on conversations, those among different characters but mainly between Jesse and Celine. Personally, I saw it as the degeneration of their relationship and sudden questioning of where each stands as an individual.
About 15 minutes through an interminably tedious argument between the two of them, my DH and I decided to exit stage left. With the movie only being 107 minutes long, there were probably only 10-15 minutes remaining, but we were exhausted from the squabbling. One critic (Sam from Illinois) said it best: "I'd rather donate the money I spent on a ticket to send them to therapy."