“I believe if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between.” (Before Sunrise, 1995)
The Cape Breton Island Film Series kicks off this week with the much-anticipated presentation of Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, a follow-up to Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), the third instalment of his modern romantic opus, and we hope not the last.
I am as giddy as a schoolgirl, waiting to see them again. Celine and Jesse (played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, who co-authored the script with Linklater), first met on a train in Austria. It’s hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday. They jumped off in Vienna to spend the day together, and we joined them. They walked through the stunning capital, and we got lost in their charming, funny, and eager dialogue. We shared their mutual desires to love and to be free, and we felt the conflict inherent therein. We all fell in love that night, but we were young, and we did not trust love, so we said goodbye, and promised to meet again.
Nine years later, finally, we did. In Before Sunset, our 20-something cautious optimism was already wearing to middle-aged regret. We spent another day, walking and talking, remembering and forgetting. It probably doesn’t sound that interesting, maybe you had to be there. It’s hard to make falling in love sound exciting sometimes.
But it is beautiful in its quiet bloom, and we are all greater for it.
Still, the pleasantly romantic note at the film’s end, (Spoiler Alert! Somebody sings a cute song and somebody misses his train) left the cynic in all of us starving for more. Life does, after all, go on, and on, and on. Celine and Jesse are all too aware of the pitfalls of everything, including love, and so though we wished them the best, we could not help but expect less.
It is nine years later, again; my how the time goes. Celine and Jesse have two children and they live in Paris, but here we find them vacationing in Greece. And now that we all feel a good deal older (20 years!), wiser and warier and either more or less in love with life than we used to be, now would be a good time, it seems, to pause and reflect.
Before Midnight is a lot less walky-talky than its predecessors. There are kids to deal with, and a dinner party, and all those grown-up diversions that prevent us from just walking, and talking. Ultimately though, the couple steals away into the Grecian night together, and we chase after them.
Now that we are alone, at last, we can see our love in its fulfillment. In all its raw passion and intimate detail, all its fire and its fury, all its drudgery and disappointment.
Where will we end up? Will we part ways here, and never meet again? Or maybe we can make this work. We are, after all, older now. Surely we must have learned something by now.
Whether you have seen Linklater’s earlier films or not, this is one you don’t want to miss. First round draft pick of the film series. The kid’s a winner.
Hope to see you all Thursday night for the Cape Breton Island Film Series home opener at 7pm, Empire Theatres Studio 10.
Maybe when it’s over we can go for a walk, and talk, and see where we end up.
Watch a preview here: