The third, and possibly best, of the “Before” films; “Jesse” and “Celine” (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) no longer in the throes of love’s commencing powers, passions ignited by a glance; seasoned, in their early 40’s, with twin daughters, vacationing in Greece. Jesse’s son by his first marriage has left for Chicago; leaving an anguished, guilt-ridden, perplexed Jesse, venting to Celine, who is wresting with her own professional issues.
Jesse still sports the homeless, unshaven, unwashed look but redeems his personal scruff with his razor-sharp intellect. Self- deprecating Celine, a little thicker, but still in possession of magnificent tresses, an acerbic sense of humor, and a wit to match her partner; in essence, their stars were meant to cross and remain cemented in perpetuity.
With trepidation, fearing an onslaught of the “like” affliction, I reluctantly ventured into the third, and surprisingly wonderful, collaboration between Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Reminiscent of Kathryn Hepburn/Spencer Tracy films of yesteryear it is a homage to “conversation”; the characters talk to each other: intensely, lovingly, bitterly, bitingly and in the process reveal their innermost foibles, regrets, pains, insecurities. Anyone who has had a long term relationship will recognize the peaks and valleys this couple describe so ardently; words that wound, soothe, heal and gift inimitable encouragement, joy, love.
A poignantly memorable moment occurs, at a sumptuous lunch, served al fresco, surrounded by the shimmering, vibrantly heated Greek landscape; four couples, multi-generational (millennials, mid-life, octogenarians) expound on relationships: why some wither, others flourish; no definitive answers, just voluminous wisdom in the simplest spoken reflection.
The tangible, palatable chemistry between Delpy and Hawke is the force behind the realistic richness of the film; passion is tempered, but their friendship has been nurtured by life’s fires and like the strongest steel, tested, unbreakable; inevitably, after midnight, “friendship” is the tie that binds.