If you’ve considered seeing Before Midnight, be prepare to either love it, hate it, or find it moderately unintelligible and therefore feel ambivalent about it.
The thing about Before Midnight is, as a screenplay which perfectly captures an unhealthy relationship between two people, at least one of which seems pretty poor at coping with what might call expected and or “normal” stressors in a long term relationship, it’s utterly brilliant. It carries the same humanness of the previous Before movies (Sunrise and Sunset), but unlike the previous two which have more universal human emotional appeal, Before Midnight steps a bit farther into the realm of The Crazy. Therefore, it may feel quite foreign, uncomfortable, incomprehensible, and more, for those who don’t have as much (or more) of The Crazy within themselves. It’s not surprising that there was a lot more discourse on how good the movie was, since it didn’t ring as true for as many people.
Since it’s nominated for Adapted Screenplay (the “adapted” coming from the fact that it’s based on characters which have appeared in other media, namely the two prequels), this is more or less a good thing: it engages fully with the range of human language, is beautifully set and blocked by these two actors which we know are… intimate with each other (spoilers!), and carries a weight that’s hard to find in most movies. But, it’s also less resounding: it doesn’t remind us of ourselves as much as the previous movies, it isn’t as romantic (in fact, it’s barely romantic), and I would assert (as others have before me), that it takes a happy ending over a real ending. That, especially as the last taste of a pie which was generally quite delicious, is disappointing.
Initially I loved the screenplay, and I still think it’s strong. But, it’s not an Oscar winner in my book. It’s a necessary part of a movie education (mostly because Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are crucial, and you won’t be able to finish the latter without watching Before Midnight), but that’s about as far as I’d go.
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