Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Celine and Jesse Forever

Before Midnight       Final Cut Score: 95%

On-screen couples don't get more organic than this.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy come off as if they were conjoined for the past nine years in Before Midnight, the gloriously-acted, hypnotically-conversational conclusion to the Before Sunrise trilogy — the year's first legit contender for awards season love.

Picking up nearly a decade after our last glimpse into Jesse and Celine's then separate lives, the twosome's gone domestic, now parents to twin girls, the big ol' family on vacay in picturesque Greece.

Suffering the strain of a long-distance relationship with his Chicago-housed, now-adolescent son, Jesse pines for more time with his offspring, even if that means packing up his fam's Parisian shop and relocating it to the Windy City. Though that doesn't sit so well with Celine, who despises Jesse's ex, wanting no part of a move to the states, especially with her dream job dangling in the offing.

From those circumstances arises a movie that mesmerizes through its bewitching dialogue — conversations that could have been captured via wiretap from inside my home. Any longtime duo will share a similar experience as Jesse and Celine carp about the myriad of issues that accompany attempts to keep some semblance of self within the structure of coupling.

Director Richard Linklater returns to finish what he started some 18 years ago, again letting his camera roll with nary a cut for scene after scene throughout — the film is shaped from mega-extended – eavesdropping – discussions, which may not always match the beauty of their Greek-isle surroundings, but enthrall with every syllable spoken.

How engrossing are these tète-à-tètes? When the credits appeared, I sat in a state of disbelief, incredulous that 108 minutes had passed — it felt more like 30.

Let's pray this isn't last we see of Jesse and Celine. I recommend Hawke, Delpy and Linklater take a cue from The Up Series and schedule another session in seven years.

Or perhaps even sooner.