Necessary Illusions

A Mammoth Old Film Projector
In Fran├žois Truffaut trilogy style, Linklater`s 'Before Midnight', following 'Before Sunrise' and 'Before Sunset' is a surprisingly poignant and real depiction of connecting through love.  By opening up all the difficulties and awkward moments revealed under the light of bright Greek summer, love and the social roles that we play with each other are discussed and dissected. 
   Seeing the film in Pictureville, the art house cinema, added another layer of depth. I was first driven to this cinema within The Media Museum as a young teen; then later as a young woman in  my twenties writing my dissertation on the Nouvelle Vauge, I drove myself.  I found solace in watching French subtitled movies, where seemingly nothing happened except intellectual, complicated and multi-dimensional people just talked.  They talked throughout the whole film.  Not only existentially about their own problems, but also how these were essentially connected larger social, global issues and in a tangled web of dialogue, the characters tried to find a resolution to them all.  Linklater`s trilogy is a homage to these films.
      Watching the movie unfold through an emotional arch of intense dialogue, in their car, around a dinner table with friends, on a summer walk through ancient Greek ruins and later in their hotel, I was reminded of how my script-writing teacher had said about my own scripts "This doesn`t work.  Nothing happens.  This would work better as a radio play"  What I can see now, is that, like Linklater, I was clearly influenced by Trauffaut, Rohmer, Chabrol et al.  Like these directors, I loved literature and saw film as a means for these characters to express themselves and their narrative through literary and philosophical  self-analysis with each other, to find their place in the world and their purpose for it.  Not for their own solipsistic aim, but rather to s'engager with the world in the existential sense.  To find their political and social commitment to solving social complexities.  By transforming their own traditional roles, they can in turn transform restricting social orders.  One transformation, influences the other and it is only through conflictual and resolutory dialogue that they achieve this.  The dialogue is necessary for the action to take place.  If only I had had that answer when I was a timid 20 year old for my scriptwriting teacher.  Of course something happens in these kinds of dialogue rich films.  As Paolo Friere reminds us, it is about dialogue, action then critical reflection upon that action, in order to transform it.
     Choosing Greece as the place to set this film, arguably further revealed Linklater`s aim to see the character`s dilemmas as being interwoven and essentially a part of the social problems that we are facing in modern times.  Greece, as mentioned in the film is on the brink of revolution, angry and being duped into a love affair with Europe, full of hope and promise of a better future, only to find themselves rejected and in crisis.  Linklater worked with a full Greek crew, practically unheard of in American productions.  Arguably he saw the Greeks as suffering in parallel with his characters.  Greece needs Europe and Europe needs Greece.  Yet, why, with all Greece`s rich ancient history and everything the country has is it seen as the one to blame or as useless in the eyes of Europe and left by many.  Boadicea, the ancient queen, is called out to, jokingly for help by Celine`s to be her  saviour, when she feels colonised by husband`s advances.  This is a rather ironic touch, since it turns the tables, by looking to a historical symbol of Greece to be the saviour and not the victim.  Continuing to dissect traditional social orders and open them to question, there is a scene where Celine and Jesse are in a Byzantine church, where issues of religion are raised, through witty and personal dialogue, challenging their own conformist and contemporary views, not revealing one or the other as better, but rather open to dialogue.
    No-one in this art house audience was below twenty.  There wasn´t a moody teenager in sight.  Instead there were knowing ripples of laughter from people who were a older and have been through the complications, pain, difficulties of love but the bizarre resolutions as well. 
Inside the Projection Room @ Pictureville
    'Before Midnight' is a very different film from the first two dreamy, romantic love stories that brought them together.  Times have changed dramatically.  We can constantly keep track of each other through Facebook, Google any number of social networking sites; we can be found practically anywhere.  There is no such thing as that mysterious stranger who you just meet on the train, spend a night with and fall in love and never see again.  I am not sure which is worse.  Feeling connected virtually gives the illusion that we really know each other, that we are deeply connecting and understanding each other, when really, I think we´re not.  That actually, it is like we are far apart and not really knowing what each other is doing or thinking, we only have the virtual illusion that we know, enhanced by snippets and sound-bites, then wrapped up in our own projections, dreams, hopes and fears.
    What´s the difference? Perhaps a little more information, but I think our necessary illusions that we like to keep, so that we can remain sane and just get through the harshness of life, somehow it`s the same.
     When the reality hits, as 'Before Midnight' depicts in witty and sometimes embarrassing ways like some poor French farce, which, I´m reminded is like life is, we are unhappy with it.   Disappointed that our illusions weren`t true; angry even and take it out on that other person that is closest to us, the one that we are trying to connect to.  After watching 'Before Midnight' with so much anger and the many frustrations with ourselves and the state of the world that makes us push those that we love the most away, I found myself going back over the previous two movies, eventually back to the first film 'Before Sunrise'.  Still it has all the existential angst, but in a purer form less tainted by cynicism.  I went back to those moments throughout the film when we connect, and yet there is still so much that we don`t understand about ourselves and each other, but at least we try, and we let go of our pride and our fear and we just try.

"If there is any kind of magic in this world, then it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.  I know it must be impossible to succeed, but who cares really, the answer must be in the attempt."