tek's rating: ½

Before Midnight (R)
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This came out in 2013, and I first saw it in 2015. I watched it on Valentine's Day, as the culmination of a three-week plan to watch the entire trilogy (which started with Before Sunrise and continued with Before Sunset). So... it's kind of ironic that unlike those two movies, I decided not to file my review under "romantic movies," but rather "drama." But that decision is complicated, and it ties in with why I rated it lower than I did the first two movies. This is definitely the kind of thing where I would rate the quality higher than my enjoyment of it. (It's at least as good as the first two movies, in terms of quality, and probably better.) It's just... too real, too painful, for me. It's not that it isn't romantic at all, it's just... the characters, Jesse and Celine, are in a very different phase of life, now.

So... it begins with the now 41-year-old Jesse at an airport in Greece, where his son Hank is about to board a plane, to go home to Chicago, after spending the summer with his father. There's a moment when Hank talks about his mother hating his father, and at first I was a bit confused. I knew that the movie was set nine years after the previous film, and I was kind of thinking that he must be Celine's son, which made me worry that Jesse and Celine were no longer together, although I thought the kid looked a bit too old to have been born after the last film. But then it hit me, Jesse was married to someone else (though we never saw his wife). I don't specifically remember him having mentioned having a son, in the previous movie, but I suppose he probably did. Anyway, it seems he divorced his wife (Hank's mother) soon after that movie, and he's been with Celine ever since.

After the opening scene, the movie seems to basically follow the format of the first two films. Jesse and Celine have one of their now familiar conversations, as they drive to their destination (with twin daughters asleep in the back seat). They get to the place they've been staying for the summer, along with an older writer, and the widow of a friend of his, and two other couples. This is where the format changes somewhat, as the whole group engages in the sort of meandering, philosophical discussion that was previously just a Jesse and Celine thing. And I guess one of the couples had rented a hotel room for Celine and Jesse (who will soon have to return to Paris, where they've been living together for several years). The two of them walk to the hotel, having yet another of their conversations. Then they get to their room, and things are going quite nicely between them. But then they start arguing about a number of things, most notably Celine's career and Jesse's desire to be closer to his son.

So... this is where it gets painful to watch. It's still good... I mean, they get some stuff out in the open that's kind of necessary, but I'm someone who loathes conflict of this sort. I'm the kind of person for whom the slightest tiff could feel like the end of the world (or at least the end of the relationship). And this wasn't a small tiff. This was some pretty heavy stuff, that really could lead to the end of their relationship. So it hurt like hell for me to watch. Especially since it seemed to me that they both still loved and respected each other and genuinely cared about what was best for each other. I didn't feel like they really disagreed about things, but... that can be the most tragic kind of argument, sometimes. It can be the scariest thing, when... you each want what's best for the other, but also for yourself, and those things may be mutually exclusive, no matter how much you love each other. Because life is not fucking fair. But... as for whether or not they're still together at the end of the movie, I won't spoil that. I will say I'd love to see a fourth movie, when another nine years have passed.

Also I'm glad I have a box of wine. I was gonna say more about that, before I actually watched the movie, but now... I don't feel like it.

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