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'Before Midnight' (2013) at SXSW

‘Before Midnight’ (2013) screened this week to a sold out theater in Austin, Texas during the SXSW Film Festival (March 8-17, 2013). The film has received electric international buzz since its world premier in January at Sundance and at its international premier in February at the Berlin International Film festival.

Many films have attempted to capture the truth about love, but few have ever gone the lengths of the ‘Before’ trilogy. It began with an innocent and serendipitous meeting seventeen years ago in ‘Before Sunrise’ (1995) when Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) met on a train to Vienna. After a serendipitous and adventurous night together, they fell madly in love. The next morning they parted at ‘sunrise’ and each returned to their private lives at home, always wondering what might have happened if they had ended up together.

In the sequel ‘Before Sunset’ (2004), their relationship was rekindled when they met again in Paris nine years later. By this time, Jesse had divorced his previous wife and written and published a novel about his love affair with Celine. With both of them single and still in love, it became possible for them to turn a long awaited fantasy into reality and finally be together; so, they settled down and made a life together in Paris. 

Fast forward nine years later to the last of this trilogy, ‘Before Midnight’ (2013), and the couple are still together; but like any relationship, it has had its problems. Now there are two daughters and heaps of pent up anger and bitterness over expectations not met. Like any long relationship, they now face the abyss of aging and uncertainty as to whether or not it will be possible to move on together. While the precursor films were sweet and idealistic, the end of the trilogy puts the ‘bitter’ in ‘bittersweet’, exploring the naked truth of the trials and tribulations of love and all its desperation and disappointment, sacrifice and regret.

Filmed entirely on location in Greece, the ancient ambiance of the remains of once great monuments serves as symbol to a love itself in ruin. As the couple walks through an antiquated dead city, they reflect over life in general, life together, time and the inevitable end. While it seems like an end to a great love, could it be only the beginning? Is their love indestructible like the stone ruins at their feet? Could it be that even if their love is in pieces, the remains are stones of permanence in the midst of constant change? Even the grandest of monuments have found their destruction by the ravages of erosion and time, but will Jesse and Celine be able to weather the storm and stay together? Or is true love really not enough?

-Written by Vanessa McMahon

 

DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater. CAST: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Xenia Kalogeropoulou , Ariane Labed, Athina Rachel Tsangari.

 

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SXSW Film presents the best in new independent films and provides informative panels, workshops, mentor sessions, parties and an industry trade show.

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