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.