I have never done a film review before – only because after every film my only comment would most likely be just limited to these three: it’s really good, I didn’t like it, it’s just so-so. But I guess it’s kinda different for Before Midnight (not just because this is a free movie screening! :P)
I feel that the film was a good break from all my watching of sci-fi and superhero movies lately (with the rubbish Pacific Rim and disappointing The Man of Steel) and I left the cinema feeling good, pondering about life and love, our current state and everything else in between.
Anyway, I do believe this film represents the place where I am right now, maybe at its early stages, which I can somehow relate to. No – I don’t have kids yet and I can fairly say that I am a newlywed, but looking back at the first two prequels, it feels like I can connect more to Before Midnight than the other two films. Before Sunrise was a romantic aspiration of mine – going backpacking through Europe, meeting one blue-eyed guy for a summer fling – which didn’t materialize. Before Sunset, a follow up of the first film obviously, was a continuation of that dream which clearly won’t happen without the first stage setting in place. But with what I have been through (nothing dramatic, trust me, just an ordinary past just like everybody else), I am where Celine and Jesse were right after Before Sunset but I wouldn’t wish on myself to be where they are right now.
Jesse and Celine still have that same chemistry from when they first met 18 years ago and their second meeting nine years back. Equally lovely and charming, the two characters clearly complement each other, either as an on-screen couple and as actors. I have noticed that Jesse still has in him that young boy charm and that I-don’t-care-about-the-world attitude but seasoned in maturity brought about probably by his love and responsibility to Celine and his family. On the other hand, Celine has grown into that strong(er) feminist mom who portrays a more opinionated and compelling persona who is vocal about her beliefs and truths. But throughout the film you will slowly witness the questions, issues, insecurities, and probably weakness, she is harboring behind that brave face. (Although G has formed other opinions about Celine – given the short time he was awake and watched the film). Their relationship clearly is on the rocks – probably a right representation of what the majority of people at that age and phase in life are facing and it really is up to the couple on how to move forward in their situation. And that is where how the movie ended, similar to the first two, leaving you to come up with your own ending.
Of course, not to be missed in the movie are the extremely long takes of just the couple talking about marriage, sex, relationships, what ifs, what could have been, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of their conversation, it feels like I am eavesdropping and listening in to someone else’s hopes, dreams, difficulties. But at the same time, it left me thinking about my relationships – with beloved G (who was asleep during the first half of the movie!), my family, friends – and comparing/contrasting ours to theirs. It is easy to relate to the characters as they could be just any other ordinary couple talking about ordinary and yet important things that will move and change the direction of their lives. The argument, on the other hand is quite revealing and so perceptive that sometimes I find myself wincing deep inside overthinking about G and I! lol
The conversation of that group of people – representing different age groups and relationship status – in that dinner scene is rather insightful. From the very basic topic – what is the notion of self – to subjects about aging and death, the energetic discussion of the group puts Jesse and Celine’s relationship into a a bigger perspective, making it even more universal(?). The natural flow of conversation between all characters is simply believable and you can’t help but join in (inside your head).
Despite the lengthy dialogues in the film, it is more than enough to hold your attention for two hours and learn more about the reality of love, which is complex, life, which is uncontrollable and romance, which is unstable.
P.S. I just love the preview theatre of Shaw Cinema – it felt like we were professional movie critics. lol Thanks omy.sg for the invite! 🙂