I watch a lot of films. I think telling stories on screen is one of the most engaging, astounding and beautiful ways to learn about something or find inspiration or experience the feeling of being understood. If it’s done well, of course. I can’t say I was that blown away by the legendary mess that is 2003’s The Room – a film so dire you can’t even seem to buy it on Amazon anymore, new or secondhand.
Over the course of last weekend, when I came back from Italy with what’s officially referred to as the Italian lurgy (or should that be lergy?), I took the opportunity to indulge in some film-watching.
Before Midnight (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy)
There are very few characters created in any art form that compel fans to follow them for eighteen years. In this instance, I don’t mean eighteen years in the space of one two-hour movie either; I mean eighteen long real-time years between when you meet the characters and their story concludes. That’s quite a feat for any actor, actress, writer or direct to add to their CV.
The ‘Before’ trilogy follows Celine and Jesse, a young couple who meet on a train in 1995. Romance blossoms and they spend a night walking around Vienna together, believing this will be their only encounter. Nine years later, Jesse has written a book about their night together and Celine appears at his Paris book-signing. They spend the day walking around Paris and talking – the film ends with Jesse sitting in Celine’s apartment, about to miss his plane back to the US.
Fast forward nine more years to the present day, and Before Midnight concludes the eighteen-year tale of true love. The third and final instalment in the trilogy, like the other two films, is exceptionally well-written and boasts incredibly acting from both Delpy and Hawke. With more of a bittersweet message than the previous two stories, Celine and Jesse are having some relationship issues in a film that tells us love isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t diminish it.
Friends had mentioned Weekend to me, but it took me a long old time to finally sit down and watch it. Boy, am I glad that I did. This beautifully-crafted modern love story is British independent film at its very best. Two guys living in Nottingham, England meet at a nightclub and spend a weekend together, talking about life and falling in love. It’s a simple premise, but executed perfectly. You wouldn’t even know it was created on a low budget. The characters are incredible and it’s not a surprise to learn it picked up much critical acclaim at the film festivals when it was released.
As well as using Nottingham as a gorgeous backdrop to the story, there’s a travel element to the story which will be familiar to anyone who’s ever fallen in love quickly before they’re meant to leave a place.