Maybe you’ve never seen Before Sunrise, or the follow up Before Sunset – starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, but I’m sure you know the story: American wannabe writer Jesse is backpacking around Europe, when he meets French beauty Celine on a train. Their paths cross for just one night as they stroll around Vienna having the kind of conversations you have in your early 20s when you want to impress someone and then kiss the face off them. Fast forward to 9 years later and we revisit the couple: Jesse is in Paris on a whistle-stop book tour, when to his surprise, into the bookstore strolls Celine.
In Before Midnight, we pick up their story 9 years on from that. They have twin daughters, live in Paris, are vacationing in Greece, with Jesse’s son from his first marriage getting on-board a flight back to Chicago. Inevitably, Jesse feels guilty and admits so to Celine. She in turn assumes he wants her to therefore pick up and move to Chicago – something she adamantly refuses to do. And so we see the truth of where romantic movie love winds up: in a partnership where two people are trying to understand each other with a million other responsibilities on their shoulders.
So why go see? Well, first, Delpy looks normal – beautiful obviously, but normal. She hasn’t got marble abs and chiseled features; she looks like she raises children and still gets up twice in the night. Hawke hasn’t aged much at all, nor has his character matured – but we still are drawn to him and his affable ways.
Second, it is a film of two halves – so bear with it. The first half where they tell sweet stories in the car and then sit around eating olives with their buddies telling sweet stories about romance makes you want to 1. Be in Greece sipping Ouzo with your own buddies 2. Leave the cinema. But then our leads wander off to a hotel for the night and then the drama really begins.
Boy, will you be thankful you stayed to watch. In the darkness of the movie theatre, I wanted to jump up and down and scream loudly, “You see, I’m not mad! She feels EXACTLY LIKE ME!!!” at the screen. I lost count of how many times I mumbled to myself, “my husband has said that! And that! Oh yeah, and I’ve told him THAT!”
Not since E.T. made it home have I felt such relief in the cinema. It was like watching a home movie of my house on any given night of the week. Yet, we root for them! We hope that our old friends (because they feel like that after all this time) will somehow work it out, fight for their love, talk their way round the obstacles – as they have done in all the other films. Except this time, it isn’t lustful heady romance, it isn’t re-kindling of old desires, it is the reality of raising a family together.
In short, it is a movie every Mom will relate to. So next time you feel utterly alone as you argue (again) over who should take out the garbage, or why do you have to be the one to do bath time, or why hasn’t the dishwasher been stacked – stop, turn around and get yourself to the movies pronto.
I promise, you’ll never feel alone again.