Since movies started talking, they’ve relied on everything besides conversation to advance cinematic stories. You don’t have to point to the obvious, such as combatting monsters and other evil doers or chases and explosions. In such films, well-placed buzz lines and banter serve as punctuation.
Even dialogue-laden films depend on things like the structural tension of a courtroom. In relationship pictures, verbal communication tends to travel on screwball hijinks or screwed up low-jinks.
“Before Midnight” dares to emphasize conversation. Filmmaker Richard Linklater had Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy talking with each other through all of “Before Sunrise” 18 years ago and continued it in “Before Sunset” nine years ago.
In this third “Before” film, conversation sustains its vitality, not the least challenge being that the characters have married and had a couple kids since the second picture.
It is important to note that you need not have seen the first two films to engage fully in the third. And if you’ve seen the other two, there’s no feeling they’ve overused what they’ve leaned on twice before or slipped on the quality of the third go-round.
Conversation. That’s essentially the whole movie, including vibrant interaction dining with friends. Yes, cinematic tension rises to quite a heated pitch. Let’s just say that the husband has a noticeably male perspective, and the wife has a noticeably female perspective. Whether or not you peg it that way or decide that one is more right than the other, you are likely to feel knotted up in their argument.
It doesn’t hurt to watch all this set on an unhurried Greek isle. Playing intelligent, expressive individuals, it surely helps that Ethan Hawke is a handsome enough middle-aged man and Julie Delpy is a pretty enough middle-aged woman.
The “regular people” look of them exudes two characters who are comfortable in their own skins. They should be grounded enough to carry the complications that bubble in their lives.
See “Before Midnight.” Roll with the simple daring of its effecting talk on film. See where their argument gets them. (Playing at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Nevada Theatre)
Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at http://startlets.com.