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A Hint At Its Conclusion? Ethan Hawke Says 'Before Midnight' "May Have Come To The End Of The Story"

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by Edward Davis
October 1, 2012 7:57 PM
15 Comments
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One of the best and most unexpected diptychs in recent years was Richard Linklater's "Before Sunrise"/"Before Sunset." Unexpected, because Linklater and his stars and co-writers, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, surely didn't conceive as the story as a trilogy, let alone a two-parter. But organically, as each film grew in popularity and the characters resonated for the trio and for audiences, they decided to expand the storyline. And so "Before Sunrise" arrived in 1995, but it wasn't until nine years later that they created the belated sequel, "Before Sunset."

So if "Before Midnight" -- the surprise third picture that was shot and completed in secret late this summer in Greece -- arrives in theaters next year, which it likely should, it will have been another nine years between pictures (they couldn't have planned it better -- maybe that was the concept all along).

But does "Before Midnight" end on as much of a cliffhanger as "Before Sunrise" did? Here's the end of that film in case you don't remember it. In short, Jesse (Hawke), who had reconnected with Celine (Delpy) nine years after their first encounter, was about to miss his flight back to the U.S. and presumably did. 

And so while many of us suspect/assume "Before Midnight" will be the final film in the story, in a recent interview with Collider, Ethan Hawke suggested there could be more.

"[Before Midnight’s] really a continuation," he explained. "For me, we just filmed it a couple days ago and I’m still kind of high from the experience. The hardest thing will certainly be… that the first two have a real following. People care about these characters and we really feel an obligation not to let people down about it. But at the same time, there’s no way we’re going to make everybody happy so we just had to try to go about with the same approach and same attitude. I love this movie. And I feel like in a strange way we may have come to the end of the story."

May have come to the end? So is the conclusion's picture as wide-open as "Before Sunrise"? Hawke doesn't say for sure, but his comments are somewhat eye-opening. Asked if audiences shouldn't expect  to see another film in the series, Hawke said, "We’ll see. We’ll see. You never know but it feels like the story’s reaching its resolution."

While that answer certainly suggests this film does close out the story, it's definitely more opaque and more open a statement about the possibility of more films than we would have expected. Last we heard, Linklater had just completed the film and while there was no sizzle reel available, buyers at the Toronto International Film Festival certainly had to add it to the slate of pictures they were considering. We assume "Before Midnight" will receive a 2013 release, but more news will likely be available when the editing is complete and the picture is screened. One thing to consider, 'Sunset' was a Castle Rock/Warner Independent Pictures production and WB proper did the theatrical distribution and the DVD, so they may have right of first refusal.

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15 Comments

  • Jack | June 15, 2014 10:28 PMReply

    Ok guys I really didn't understand the ending of before midnight and it's driving me nuts. There was no real conclusion. They didn't come to a resolution as to whether she takes the job or goes back to chicago and what happens with the guys son. I feel like my time was wasted. Can someone pplllleeeaasseee explain it to me? or is it another cliffhanger???

  • Nina | April 6, 2014 2:32 AMReply

    Finally just watched Before Midnight. I realized subconsciously that these Jesse and Celine have influenced me in my life. I NEED there to be another "check in" with this couple. I'll gladly wait another nine years if need be

  • John | December 11, 2012 5:46 PMReply

    I'm so happy to know that there is a Before Midnight. I was 8 when I saw Before Sunrise, now im 16. I've waited half of my life for this movie. I hope it isn't the last.

  • Lila | November 5, 2012 7:48 PMReply

    This saga is a refreshing change from the usual dull and unrealistic Rom-Coms. Personally I'm of the opinion that in 'Before Sunset' he missed his flight and stayed the night at her apartment. But would have eventually flown back to the states because of his wife and son. Hopefully, what seems to be the last film in this romantic yet unique saga, will see Jessie & Celine end up together. I do hope so - there chemistry is undeniable!

  • rachel | October 6, 2012 8:39 PMReply

    i didnt think the ending of sunset was a cliffhanger, to me, it just had to be that they were meant to be together.... he never got his plane, and the rest just worked itself out somehow... I hope that the next film finishes in such a romantic beautiful way. I cannot wait!

  • Glass | October 2, 2012 8:09 AMReply

    I can't wait. After the surprise of "hey we just finished shooting it" after they were saying it might be a long way off, I don't trust anything they say about it anymore. Which is an awesome thing. Also, Criterion trilogy box set or GTFO.

  • James | October 2, 2012 1:36 PM

    I certainly hope so. Criterion has released other Linklater films and they've finally opened the doors at Warner Bros with BADLANDS, so it's conceivable.

  • dfgbrad | October 2, 2012 4:29 AMReply

    good post.

  • hank | October 2, 2012 2:08 AMReply

    was this such a breaking news story that you couldn't proofread one time before posting?

  • AS | October 1, 2012 11:49 PMReply

    This is like the Transformers of indie films.

  • IG | October 1, 2012 10:10 PMReply

    i have a feeling they won't end up together at the end...and it will be the final nail in the coffin for their relationship.

  • yer | October 1, 2012 9:29 PMReply

    People still care about those films? Kiarostami one-upped both of them with Certified Copy.

  • Tyler | October 2, 2012 9:15 AM

    "Before Sunrise / Sunset" > "Certified Copy"

  • RNL | October 1, 2012 8:16 PMReply

    I'd be very surprised if they wrapped it up and closed it off. Right now they don't know how they'll feel about a fourth film in 2022, or if they'll all still be around to make one, and they must be aware of that, so I'm sure the ending will be done in such a way that if there's never a fourth film it'll make a satisfactory trilogy, but if they want to continue it they'll be able to in 9 years' time.

  • James | October 1, 2012 8:06 PMReply

    It blows my mind that people talk about BEFORE SUNSET ending on a cliffhanger. I hear this so often, but while what happens next isn't bluntly shown onscreen, it couldn't be more obvious what choice the two characters are going to make. It's the least cliffhanger-y ending I've ever seen.

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