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This is the second time that I think a last dialogue line from one of the “Before…” films will remain unforgettable to me. Since seeing “Before Sunset” I love the wonderful final dialogue “You’re gonna miss your plane”,  – “I know”, and now they’ve done it again, albeit a little more pretentious and constructed, with “It must have been one hell of a night we’re about to have”. But that’s what these Linklater-Delpy-Hawke packages are about: to create dialogues, and to play the hell out of them.

“Before Midnight” is almost disturbingly populated with other talking cast, and a lunch conversation on a pleasant Greek terrace is more of a reminder of the Woody Allen dinner chats we used to love than the dialogue between two lovers the “Before” trilogy was known for. But the film needs to make a point: after courting and catching, the time of twosome-ness is if not over, but reduced, this couple has enlarged their social circle not just by adding a kid or two, but also by hopping amidst a circle of friends and a social networks that comes with a long-lasting relationship. The holiday weeks dedicated to having sex as often as possible are replaced by the wish to have as pleasant a spot in the sun and some local dishes while learning about the local hosts and having conversation about literature.

And arguing. I am not whether co-author Delpy intentionally creates a character for herself that is increasingly irrational and requires a lot of patience on part of Ethan Hawke’s character as well as on part of the audience – she is picking up a lot of the cliches about middle-aged women, about their shape, about their role in life, about whether or not her boyfriend would fall in love again if they had not met decades ago, but would meet on a train today. He keeps his composure, remains charming, seems to be very familiar with her randomly excessive emotional state, and sits (or lies on the sofa) through it with great charm.   He has a lot of chances to give severe responses to her chatter, but restrains himself. So I was wondering: is this film an instruction manual for relationships with agitated women?

She does not come across a very pleasant person, to say the least, and it is this honesty about how difficult relationship maintenance sometimes is that makes the film a credible, while still romantic and entertaining, bit of movie making. I can’t say that I want to meet them again in ten  years, but I never had the urge to meet them again after the previous segment of their lives. Still, it’s worth it, and both Delpy and Hawke show that given the right situation and the right director, they can be impressive actors.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/before_midnight_2013/

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