In Defence of Before Midnight

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THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

People just seem to really hate Before Midnight, the third film of the Before Trilogy by Richard Linklater, for some reason. It often gets the most flack from (heartbroken) fans for being the “least romantic”film out of the three, but I honestly really liked it; in fact I consider it just as good as the first film, Before Sunrise (Before Sunset was my favourite among the three). People hate it because this is when the undying romance of Jesse and Celine seem to be fading away due to marriage, but I believe that the whole point of the story was to simply show another chapter of their relationship.

The film painted married life very realistically, maybe not in an ideal way, but in a raw truthful way that I think many couples could relate to. Love is complicated and couples fight; I think this is what the audience seemed to forget after seeing these two “perfect” lovers in the two previous movies. Even though Jesse and Celine are just fictional characters, they are just as human as we all are. Conflict is inevitable in relationships despite how close a relationship is.

In the first film, we see them as young, adventurous people who are just going with the flow in life, uncaring about the rest of the world; but now that they’re older, they are forced to face the reality of life. They have kids, they have jobs, and they have so much more responsibilities that’s taking a toll on them. Personally, I don’t blame Celine either when she ranted about wanting something more in life because parents really do sacrifice their whole lives for their kids, and the couples themselves often have to sacrifice their own lives for each other, which almost leaves no room for themselves. I think it’s natural for most couples and parents to feel that way at some point, and what I loved about this scene was how honest they were to each other, and their honesty with one another is indicative of their intimacy.

I love this film because it’s honest. It’s not those kinds of romantic movies that gives an idealistic view of what marriage or what having kids is like. In fact I personally find those kinds of movies very cloying sometimes. This film is different because it’s human at the very core. It depicts marital life brutally, not brutal due to their argument, but brutal due to its frank narrative of a married couple.

At the end of it all, I think the film leaves off in a very positive note, because despite their big fight, they do still care about each other deeply. I guess the message it’s trying to leave is that despite the ups and downs of a relationship, one that truly stands the test of time is one that springs back up to life no matter how broken it seems to be.

Photo credits to athenacinema.com

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