Before Midnight (film)

Before Midnight (Directed by Richard Linklater)/2013

This film is the final of the trilogy by Richard Linklater. It explores the themes of love and the fading nature of a long-term relationship. Jesse and Celine are the central characters of Linklater's romantic tale that spanned over a decade. Jesse left his wife and son and chose to start a new relationship with Celine 18 years ago. Fast forward to today’s time, Jesse and Celine are on a holiday on a Greek island with their young daughters and troubled by the battle with Jesses's ex-wife for the custody of his son . Early in the film we see the quotidian grind of the long term partners: work, children, planning, logistics etc. etc as if the earlier times of their relationship have melted away into a rose-tinted past.

At dinner, Jesse, Celine and their friends discuss love and relationships. We see people dancing around the topic of love: the rational human-beings at the table are unwilling to come out and openly admit their belief in everlasting love at the risk of appearing ridiculous. In the modern world, people fear appearing foolish for believing in the fairy tale of "love". They tell themselves to take a practical and cynical approach: all things come to an end, and so will love.

As the conversation peters out an old woman that was listening to everyone quietly starts to talk about her fading memory of her dead husband: how painful it is for her that her memory of him is fading. It is like losing him all over again, she says. The group suddenly becomes solemn. It is as if the heretics have witnessed a miracle. They saw the possibility of the magical force of love still lurking beneath us despite how much we tell ourselves that we’re guided by logic and rationality.

Jesse and Celine get to spend a romantic evening on their own. However they have a horrible time as they have a big fight about things that any couples fight about: juggling work and life, household chores, infidelities; tensions which get heightened by insecurities with aging bodies and fears of rejection. Debates on feminism and male and female roles in the relationship play a big part it provides neither guidance nor solution. The conversations are all too familiar. Linklater seems to be saying that despite knowing the greatness of love, couples still argue and bicker because we won’t be able to get anything done if we were in perpetual state of love: modern life is not that forgiving.

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