Immersed in Blu-ray: Before Midnight

Richard Linklatter’s sublime Before Midnight goes Blu (Sony Home Ent.), and the latest saga about soul mates Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) is one of the year’s best movies.

What’s unique about the Before trilogy is that it’s not only a perceptive chronicling of this couple’s fleeting love story, but also a three-decade snapshot of Linklater’s personal style: dialogue-driven, naturalistic, and emotionally accessible.

In Before Sunrise, Jesse and Celine met by chance on a train and enjoyed after-hours Vienna; then they were reunited nine years later in Before Sunset for an afternoon in Paris. Now, after another nine-year hiatus, Before Midnight finds them in a committed relationship with twin girls on a vacation in Greece, but facing a mid-life crisis.

However, likes its predecessors, Before Midnight contains the same loose, ambiguous, conversational flow with lots of long takes and judicious use of hand-held camera. There are about a dozen sequences that explore love and life and the nature of Jesse and Celine’s relationship.

View all three movies together, and you’ll find wonderful echoes of the past in Midnight: We are reintroduced to Jesse and Celine in another bravura car scene, with the twins asleep in the back seat — only this time it’s a more leisurely, if intense, 13-minute single take.  A long walk among the ruins shot with a Steadicam is very much in the style of the earlier films. But whereas Vienna and Paris were romantic urban settings, the Greek ruins are more rural and indicative of mortality and faded beauty.

Midnight culminates with a powerful encounter in a hotel room broken up by mood and divided by space. There’s definitely more of an edge to the couple with a lot of resentment built up throughout the years. But it’s deeper and richer experience before coming full circle.

Shall we make another date with Jesse and Celine in 2022?

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Home Entertainment, Movies, Trailers

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