Aug 6, 2013

Before Midnight (2013) / bitch-slapped by reality

"If you want true love, then this is it."

I didn't love Before Midnight the way I have, for years, loved Sunrise and Sunset. It's a spectacular film, of course. The script and the acting are as top-notch as ever. When it wasn't depressing, It was funny. The characters are still spectacular. So, a great movie. BUT. I know what my problems with it are.

Beware of tiny spoilers.

Sunrise was romantic. Sunset was nostalgic. Now, Midnight was realistic. Not that the other two were not; I keep going on about how REAL the story and the characters and the dialogue have always been. Yet, not many people meet each other in a train ans then spend the most significant night of their lives in Vienna. Not many people lose touch to that potential love of their lives for nine years, until meeting them again in Paris. But majority of people, at some point of their lives, are 41 and struggling to maintain their marriages. Which sucks. Why do the romantic and the nostalgic have to give way to the realistic?

It had to happen, of course. Midnight could not have been another cheerful film about discovering or rediscovering. I don't know what I expected. Less shouting and fighting, I guess? All that shouting and fighting made me depressed. I wasn't ready for that. I had just watched Sunrise and Sunset for the millionth time, and I loved the characters and I loved their relationship. Now, here they were, sick of themselves and their lives and their relationship, shouting and fighting. Whyyyyyyyyyy. It's so wrong. I mean, if a perfect couple like Jesse and Celine can't make it, how could I ever expect to make it? Right? I found myself dreading the time I'm 41. These films have always represented realistic, but ideal life for me. Now I felt bitch-slapped. And naive. I consider myself a reasonably realistic person, aware of the excessively romanticized reality that media is shoving down our throats. And yet, Before Midnight managed to pull the rug from under my apparently wide-eyed, brainwashed, romcom-consuming bubble. Reality sucks! Bring back my unrealistically happy endings!

The main reason why I know I didn't embrace the third film as much as the previous two is that I'm 24 and single. In Sunset the characters are 32, but I am still able to identify with them and their thoughts (I'd name the second film my favorite of the three). Apparently 41 is too far. I've never had any experiences even close to the ones the characters went through in the script. It felt strange and intimidating, like a sneak peak to the scary adult world waiting for me behind a decade or two. Then again, I'm sure that for someone who has been married or in a relationship with kids for several years, the film does not seem intimidating at all. They can understand what's going on much better, perhaps take it less seriously, and most importantly, identify with it all. What you don't know will scare you.

So, this is obviously a lost battle. What I need to do is accept the fact that I didn't love Before Midnight as much and as sincerely as I wanted to, hide my Sunrise and Sunset dvd's for a couple of years, sit back, grow up, get married, have kids, have marriage crises, and then watch Midnight again. Then I'll love it. And by that time Before Noon or Before Lunchtime or Before Twilight or Before Whatever will be playing in cinemas, I hope, and I'll go see it and get myself an early midlife crisis, because who knew turning fifty could be that horrifying.

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