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Archive for June, 2013

before-midnight

Ethan Hawke in Julie Delpy in Before Midnight.

Greetings, and apologies for the delay in posts. I’ve been out of the country on vacation (pictures forthcoming). I also managed to lose my computer for a week. Below, you’ll find an excerpt of my review for Before Midnight, a film that managed to meet the near-impossible expectations I had for it. You can read the full review over at Next Projection.

As any book of inspirational quotes will tell you, we all lead two lives: the one we have today and the one we look back on. Most of the time, these lives scarcely resemble one another. Time can transform any mundane moment into the stuff of blissful daydreams. Looking back, we cherry-pick the little ecstasies and ignore the awkward silences and the trips to the bathroom to escape them. We create a highlight reel of those sublime moments when everything just clicked. We turn the raw footage of everyday life into a breezy montage.

The magic of Before Sunrise, Richard Linklater’s rapturous romantic comedy, is that it scrunched all those sublime moments in young love into a single spontaneous night. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) feel the spark of an initial encounter, the thrill of learning what makes a person tick, the first kiss, the first fight, the first night in bed, the bittersweet goodbye – all set amidst the idyllic backdrop of Vienna. It’s the kind of fantasy we all pine for, and which the cinema can sometimes provide.

Nine years later, Linklater showed us the emotional damage that such brushes with romantic perfection can cause. In Before Sunset, we find both characters clinging to their night together as a paragon of what romantic love can and should be. Jesse’s married and feels like he runs “a small nursery with someone I used to date.” Celine pens wistful waltzes about that night in 1994. Set against the impossible standard of their one night, any relationship would disappoint. Humdrum domesticity and familiar comforts couldn’t possibly compare to the idealized memory of that night in Vienna. A super-charged fling, after all, doesn’t have time to grow predictable. Any relationship, so long as it’s cut off before it can reach its full potential, will leave both partners romanticizing what could have been.

Read the full review here.

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