Before and After Midnight

"Will I understand this movie even though I haven't seen the other two?" asked my friend Gail, munching on popcorn under her Yankees baseball cap.

"Yes," I answered, stealing a handful of popcorn, "This movie is basically one long conversation."

We decided to meet at the Angelika for the 10:10 p.m. showing of Before Midnight, after much deliberation over which time slot worked for us. "It's still before midnight ha ha ha" she had texted. 

"Downstairs. Theater 3," we were told, as our ticket stubs were torn.

10:07 p.m. Phew! Made it!

We found Theater 3 and wandered in. It was pretty filled. In fact, it looked like the movie had already started, but we couldn't possibly have missed that much. We grabbed a couple of seats in the back. Ethan Hawke was in mid-conversation with Julie Delpy and it was a pretty heated one. 

I reached over and grabbed more popcorn.

Can you believe it was Gail's first time watching a film from this Richard Linklater trilogy (if I can call it that)? I couldn't. Jesse and Céline's relationship seems like such a symbol for unrequited, "reality bites", 1990's sort of love, especially for our generation. With each film, you follow their relationship in real time. Before Sunrise, the first film, debuted in 1994 and shows how the two first met in Vienna. The next film Before Sunset takes place nine years later when they reconnect in Paris. In Before Midnight, the dreaminess fades away and you're given a glimpse of the wear-and-tear in their relationship. 

Honestly, I was bummed that I had missed the very beginning. I would've loved to know what the first line was. Thankfully, I didn't dwell on this. Partly because my inner voice was interrupted by Gail munching away in the dark, so I self-consciously munched a little quieter.

Jesse and Céline are sitting at a table at a waterfront cafe. It is nighttime.

"We're going to have one hell of a night," says Céline.

Interesting lead-in to the film. They're letting the audience know that we're about to get into the meat of the story, I think to myself.

The camera pans out; the screen goes black.

Ohhh... It's a flashback format.


The end credits start rolling.

"WHAT?!" Gail and I both gasp aloud in unison. I think popcorn may have fallen out of Gail's mouth. We both turned to each other with gaping mouths and started laughing uncontrollably. 

Ten minutes! We were sitting there for a good ten minutes! Of course! Of course we were directed to the wrong theater!

We scurried over to Theater 2 and made it just in time for the opening scene. By the time we left, it was after midnight.