starring Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
screenplay by Richard Linklater & Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy
directed by Richard Linklater
by Angelo Muredda Before Midnight opens with a bit of misdirection, a tracking shot of two pairs of shoes ambling towards the camera that we instinctively ascribe to Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) before the second pair is shown to belong instead to Jesse's teenaged son Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick), about to board a flight back to the States. Somewhere in the slow pan up to the actors' faces, and in the deferral of series MVP Celine, is a playful acknowledgement that Richard Linklater's Before movies have grown into a franchise with a coherent visual language that's dependable enough to riff on. Much has changed since Jesse and Celine's inaugural philosophical walking tour through Vienna 18 years ago, and the prologue is an economical demonstration of how arbitrary our encounters with the couple to date have been, shaped by our inability to listen in after Nina Simone drowns out the end of Before Sunset. But the presence of Jesse's son (from the unseen wife alluded to throughout the previous film) in place of Celine, who's finally revealed in another tracking shot in the next scene, also alerts us to something new: a conflict that runs deeper than the pair's usual anxious negotiations with a ticking clock.