When news first hit that Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke were considering a possible follow-up to their lovely duo, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, we asked readers to suggest titles and plot lines for the third film. We got some fantastic suggestions. And while I would have enjoyed seeing any number of the films readers imagined become reality, I’m also excited by the first hints that Hawke and Linklater have dropped about the actual movie that resulted: Before Midnight, which the three filmed in Greece this past summer.
Linklater talked to a reporter for Vulture last night, and he explained their choice of setting. While “it could have been anywhere,” he said, “there’s something I like about the ancient qualities of Greece. It’s so old, it kind of resonates just by being there, in a way. There’s nothing we can experience or think about that the Greeks didn’t already deal with.” Not surprisingly, then, the backdrop will likely echo a thematic emphasis on aging and the passage of time, and not, say, some impending financial crisis.
More notably, Linklater says that “whatever loose ends exist in the second film will fully be answered in the third.” The second movie, you may recall, ends with Celine, the Delpy character, dancing to Nina Simone as Jesse (Hawke) realizes that he is going to miss his flight from Paris back to New York.
When the Vulture interviewer suggest that “trouble staying with the person we’re supposed to be with” is one of the themes of the first two films, Linklater says it “was in the first two. But we end up tying that up in a way.”
Those comments echo what Ethan Hawke told Collider in a recent interview. While Hawke didn’t completely rule out revisiting these characters yet again somewhere down the line, he said “it feels like the story’s reaching its resolution,” and that “in a strange way we may have come to the end of the story.”
Whatever the case, Brow Beat commenter Jonathan King may deserve some sort of retroactive prize for his entry in our contest last fall. If the third movie was “conceived as the concluding part of a trilogy,” he said, here’s how he thought it should play out:
Having remained with Celine, Jesse is now divorced and estranged from his son, and he and Celine are living in Greece. After 9 years together, the relationship has grown stagnant. As Jesse prepares to travel back to the states to reconnect with his son, the two realize this may be their last night together. In a fitting reversal of the first two films, their conversation unpacks not the years they have spent apart but the last 9 years together, as they try to discover where they went wrong.
Even King’s title—After Sundown—is not far off the mark. I’ll leave it to King to ask Linklater and co. for royalties if the story of the third film plays out in the manner he outlined. Before Midnight does not have a distributor, but Linklater expects it will premiere early next year.