Friday, June 28, 2013

"Before Midnight" movie review & long term marriage




I recently went out on a mom's night out, with my mom & 2 favorite aunties, and saw the movie Before Midnight. It is the last in the love story trilogy - precluded by Before Sunrise & Before Sunset.
At first I didn't like the movie...I thought it was really boring with long takes, and too talk-y. But then it got really interesting.

In the Before Sunrise, two people board a train and fall in love. In Before Sunset, they reconnect and have another love affair. After each movie, the audience was always wondering - "Did they stay together?"

Before Midnight depicts them 9 years into their marriage, and 19 years after their first meeting. It gives an honest look at serious topics such as kids, custody, divorce, money, careers, sex, aging, and resentment. It really gave an honest look at all the complexities of long term marriage that are layered on with every year that passes.

I thought it was very interesting to watch psychologically because the dialogue was accurate to what a man/woman would say who are in a long term union. There was a great fight scene at the end, in which no topic was spared.

It brought to mind a lot of questions that I have about long term marriage and life.


During one part of the movie, the couple asks each other, "If you met me on a train today, would you get off with me?" and I'm not sure they would. There is something to be said about timing. What makes us commit to someone and go off into the sunset for life? And would we still do that if we met in present day? Both characters had changed since their first meeting. They are more mature, weathered down by the environmental stresses of life, kids and career. Both are tired. 

When two people are changing and evolving in a relationship, can they stay on the same page? In one point in the movie, Celine says to Jesse, "Sometimes I look at you and I don't even recognize you anymore. You're so different." They have different priorities - Celine, with her career, and Jesse has slowed down a bit and wants to be more involved with the family.

The movie also addresses the different way each person reminisces about their first meeting. For Jesse, Celine was the only woman he ever loved. For Celine, he was not. For Jesse, he connected to Celine physically, and for Celine it was more intellectual.

Does the constant compromises that you have to make in a marriage make you sacrifice the things you really want? Celine harbors so much resentment against Jesse "while he was doing book tours, she was pushing the double stroller". And he has so much guilt that he missed out on his first son's childhood. Why do parents have so much guilt? Even if we are 100% there, there's always something that we feel like we are missing. Where does the guilt come from? Celine has guilt that she stayed home when the girls were little, and now she has guilt that she's career driven, and of course she blames it all on Jesse. Can you have your own personal guilt without blaming your partner?

Another question the movie asked was "Are they together just for the kids?" Celine got knocked up with twins right after Before Sunset, so they really didn't get to build their relationship as a couple before children came into the picture. This, I think, is crucial. Children add many sleepless nights & tit-for-tat'ing, and you need to be able to function as an equal team. I feel like the relationship you build together before children is a truly solid foundation, that makes a marriage baby-proof.

It also talked about the traditional roles that men & women play in relationships - with the man being the provider, and the woman being the nurturer. The man being the rational one, the woman being the emotional one.


The couple had been through some tough times - environmental life stresses - such as careers, being able to make money, career vs. passions, career vs. hobbies, Jesse having an ex-wife who wouldn't give custody, parenting the children, being physically/intellectually attracted to each other, making time for each other. They had a lot of things to deal with in those short 9 years together as a married couple. At another point of the movie, Celine asked, "Look what all we have been through. Can we survive another 50 years?" 

And that is the question. 
When you're in a long term marriage, you're in it for life. Sometimes for 60 years. You fall in and out of love with each other, over and over again. You get angry, you fight, you get let down, you have to sacrifice & compromise - all for the marriage as a whole to survive, kind of like it's own separate entity.

It brings to mind a quote about marriage I read a while ago: 

"When you're married, there is a place for you to land. There is a place for you in the nest. It is two against the world, not just one, and one more makes all the difference; the winds don't howl in the same way. There is another vote, another point of view, a 24-hour reality check; there is somebody to talk to, even in the middle of the night if you have to. A sense of safety."
- Elizabeth Berg


After the movie, us moms went out for tea & a dessert, and I asked them a question. All have been married long term, ranging from 29 years to over 40 years. I asked them, "Have your husbands changed since you met them? Have they changed for the better, or for the worse?"
They all laughed. Auntie Sophie said, "You'll have to wait and see!"

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2 comments

  1. You know what, before series is one of the best movie set i have ever seen. They are on my list of frequent watching one's. And the last one is the best of all.
    Your review reminded me of the whole story again.:)
    After 9 years of staying together do you feel that you both are still the same? Thoughi i loved your aunt's answer,i would like to hear your answer too.:)

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    Replies
    1. I love love love that series and the last one was incredible and honest too.
      Hmmmmm hard question.....you'll have to wait and see ;)
      Just kidding LOL. I think we are different, but luckily we have grown together. Becoming a parent was a major shift.

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