Niagara Gazette — “Before Midnight” and “This Is The End” are as different as night and day, but they do have a common bond. They are both immersed in movie history.
Director Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight” is in the tradition of the French New Wave, especially the works of Eric Rohmer and Alain Resnais, who is still making films at age 91. Plot in most of the movies from these three directors is less important than the words, thoughts, and emotions of the characters. “This Is The End” is directed and co-written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. It will rummage through myriad horror, satanic, and apocalypse pictures. It’s all about plot.
Linklater’s newest feature is his third, after “Before Sunrise” (1995) and “Before Sunset” (2004), to explore the relationship between the American Jesse and the French Celine. They first met on a train in Europe and spent a romantic night together in Vienna. In the second film, they reconnected in Paris where writer Jesse was taking part in a book promotion tour. In “Before Midnight,” they are married with twin daughters and vacationing on a Greek island thanks to an author who has offered them a place to relax for six weeks. There are some peripheral characters, but the focus will again be on Jesse, played by Ethan Hawke, and Celine, played by Julie Delpy.
The movie opens with Jesse at the island’s airport where he is sending his young son back to the U.S. This is the first of the picture’s five extended scenes. The second sequence has Jesse and Celine in a car discussing how he feels about the relationship he has with his son and his intensely disliked ex-wife. Scene three involves the ensemble adult cast as they dine on a patio and talk about writing, love, fame, and the responsibilities people have to those closest to them. Sequence four finds Celine and Jesse strolling around ruins, engaged in a conversation about fantasies.