Before Midnight; After Dreams


            Before Sunrise and Before Sunset feel like the most important things in the world for these two tender souls. Jesse and Celine’s two most pivotal moments in their lives. When they fell in love, and when they decided to spend the rest of their lives together. Fittingly, the trilogy ends in a naturalistic way; the ideal and dreamy atmosphere of the last two films is forfeited here for a vacation date for the couple that could have been anywhere, any day. With it being set on the backdrop of Greece, it is just a plus for the audience, despite most of the film taking place in a hotel room. The magic of the scenery that inspired their love in the first place has faded out. Their younger years are gone, they’ve settled into a rhythm, and they’ve built something together, a family, a marriage. Before Midnight asks earnestly if the love between the two as it exists in their middle age justifies their staying together in the absence of that idealized love that once existed so intensely.

The dream of romance is alive in this trilogy capper, but it is a lucid daydream – phasing in and out of a harsh reality. The comfort between Jesse and Celine is never lost, but for every minute they have, strolling and chatting on the Peloponnese coast, the same way we’ve seen them grow and do for the past 18 years, in this film, it means a dozen more things to argue over as the night progresses. That’s married life, and it’s never shied away from. It’s hard to watch these two pillars of romanticism at each other's throats. But it's necessary for a trilogy about love to show the warts of it, to show why and how even despite the awful bickering, ambiguity of intent, and attacks of character, these people who dedicated their lives to one another find it worth staying together. While we could have an opinion on the choices they lead within the film, it’s ultimately not our place to decide what they should do about it- it's theirs.

            Nine years later, there isn’t another Before film- breaking the point of the project altogether. The official reason is not to tire the series out, that there isn’t a need to tarnish the quality of this decades-long project with a lackluster installment. However, I feel that even if there ever was an intent to make another, it should still be left like this. This idea that Jesse and Celine are approaching the midnight of their lives, that point where to are happy at their age, their decisions don’t have the luxury of the idyllic delusions of youth- and ending with the hopeful idea that no matter how flawed or foundationally shaken, those decisions will be approached solely with a type of love between two people that started out as naive and eager lovebirds. Still stuck with one another as that infatuation rusted. Is that ending too idealistic? By the end of the film, I believe that they’re better off not maintaining their love for one another at the clear expense of their individuality, but I understand that the point is they likely agree, and they choose to not interpret their continued commitment as a hindrance – but as the cost of the real love they developed over all those years, and part of the commitment is to maintain at least a semblance of that spark that’s what they want for themselves.

I believe they’ll make it work. Celine and Jesse do.


Writer: Tony Molina

Artist: Solymar Estrella