CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
Blu-ray Review: Striking Honesty of Brilliant ‘Before Midnight’
CHICAGO – As the excellent year in film winds to a close, I’m going to be writing a lot about a drama I saw almost ten months ago in Park City, Utah, and is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming services — the amazing “Before Midnight.” Building on the romantic foundation of “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset,” Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, & Julie Delpy examine the truth of what happens after the grand gestures of romance we often see in cinema. It’s a masterpiece, a film that deserves comparison with the work of John Cassavetes in the way it captures pain, beauty, regret, and love in the same moment. There are a few weeks left but it’s still my choice for the best film of the year.
What was so often missed about the beloved ending of “Before Sunset” is that when Jesse (Ethan Hawke) made that romantic move to stay with Celine (Julie Delpy) at the end of the film, he was leaving behind a wife and child. Nine years later, Linklater’s film opens with those repercussions as Jesse has to say goodbye to his son after a Summer spent in Greece. The emotion of that moment ripples through the film-long conversation that follows as Delpy & Hawke swirl through the issues that define a relationship in your late 30s and early 40s — a blend of dissection of the decisions made in the past and concern about how they will continue to impact the future. It’s an honest, heartbreaking, beautiful work of art.
And it’s interesting to hear on the commentary track how it was put together. There may be an assumption, given the natural tone of the dialogue, that a lot of “Midnight” was improvised. It’s clear from early on that this assumption is untrue. The three writers workshop, rehearse, and finetune their screenplay in a very detailed way, and the commentary details how a lot of those decisions were made. It’s a gift.
Before Midnight was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 22, 2013
Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) first met in their twenties in Before Sunrise; reunited in their thirties in Before Sunset; and, now, in director Richard Linklater’s amazing Before Midnight, they face the past, present and future; family, romance, and love. Now married and in Greece, the couple looks for a night of passion, but instead their idyllic night turns into a test of their relationship, and a discussion of what their future holds for them.
o Commentary With Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy And Richard Linklater
o Revisiting Jesse & Celine
o Q&A With Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy And Richard Linklater