After Before Midnight

Coming out of the theater on Monday, my friends Claire and Vanessa asked me what I thought about Before Midnight. I couldn't answer them. Finally, I decided, "I have to see it again."  But then I blurted out, "it makes me scared."

Why was fear my lasting emotion? Trust me, I had many during the screening: excitement, confusion, love, frustration, sadness, hopefulness, impatience, passion. This range of emotions is actually perfect because it is exactly those, and more, that Jesse and Céline feel over the course of the film.

But I was scared because this third film in the trilogy depicts the difficulties of life and relationships that may be coming in the future. I've not yet felt the compromises of parenthood. I haven't ever gone so deep with someone that they know how to fight with me, and win. I always fear that a connection like theirs, rich with thinking, will deteriorate if we can't communicate. Like them, I need to do more to embrace the power of vulnerability. As I felt when I saw Before Sunset before I was ready, Before Midnight evoked the same panic. It jolted me into a stage of life that I haven't yet experienced, so my presently healthy optimism took a momentary nosedive.

None of this is a reflection on the quality of the film, because the film itself perfectly embraces imperfections. It's exquisite in the way it explores the really intricate bullshit of two people. The late-afternoon walk to the hotel is Linklater-Delpy-Hawke dialogue extraordinaire, and the fight at the hotel surprises with so many twists and turns (and jabs and successions) that I marvel at how the three of them could craft something so real. The whole film is so specific and yet so universal. But I'll need to see it again, because I need to make sense of it beyond a surge of powerful moments.

So perhaps Before Midnight will grow with me when I encounter the tough details of a really long-term relationship. Like the time machine metaphor Jesse uses at the end, I'm experimenting with the time/space continuum. Past, present, future are all contained in these three films; Jesse and Céline have compiled memories of a life together, and yet there’s so much more left to discover, if they're willing. Explore ad infinitum...I'll have to see it again.

I will have used to live here

Before Before Midnight