Film Critic: 'Before Midnight' an Exercise in Authentic Storytelling

Jun 14, 2013

Before Midnight is the third film in a trilogy by director Richard Linklater.

Actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy portray a couple in "Before Midnight."
Credit Sony Pictures Classics

The critically acclaimed series of films - which includes 1995's Before Sunrise and 2004's Before Sunset - follows the developing relationship of Jessie and Celine, depicted by actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpe, over the course of 18 years.

Film contributor Dave Luhrssen says the unique premise offers a fairly accurate depiction of two people growing as individuals and as a couple.

But in this latest film, the couple is facing a relatable, true-to-life problem: they're growing apart.

"People have more time, people have more options, people have more things they can do and be interested in, become fascinated with, and that's part of the problem with this couple," he says.

In addition to the real-life relationship problems, Luhrssen says the dialogue bolsters the film's authentic feel.

"There is a very good rapport between director and cast here that allows the possibility of working from a script, but creatively improvising within that," he says.

Like the other two films, this movie is set in a beautiful location, this time Greece. Luhrssen says the setting provides an interesting background for the problems these characters are facing.

"This movie has to do with the influence of the past on the present and the relationship of these people, but they are surrounded by a landscape in which the past influences the present," he says. "Here are ruins from one era or another, there is a sense of tradition encountering the modern world."

But audiences won't have to catch up on the trilogy's past to understand this present movie. Luhrssen says Linklater's proficiency as a director combined with a well-told story means audiences can still enjoy this film without having seen the other two.

Dave Luhrssen is the arts and entertainment editor at the Shepherd Express Weekly and the author of its I Hate Hollywood Blog.