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Before Midnight
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • Wolof PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES

Before Midnight

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Richard Linklater
2013 | 109 Minutes | Licensor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $0.00 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #859
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: February 28, 2017
Review Date: February 27, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

The bittersweet conclusion of The Before Trilogy finds Celine and Jesse several years into a relationship and in the midst of a sun-dappled Greek retreat with their twin daughters and a group of friends. The couple soon find their vacation upended, however, by the aggravations of committed monogamy, which have long since supplanted the initial jolt of their mutual seduction. Marked by the emotional depth, piercing wit, and conversational exuberance that Linklater and his actors had honed over two decades of abiding with these characters, Before Midnight grapples with the complexities of long-term intimacy, and asks what becomes of love when it no longer has recourse to past illusions.


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents the Before Midnightóthe third film in Richard Linklaterís Before Trilogy and available exclusively in Criterionís box setóon Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The film was shot digitally and this presentation comes from the 2K master.

The film is the only one of the three films to have already received a previous Blu-ray edition, by Sony in this case. Itís also the only film to have been shot digitally. As a high-definition presentation it is easily the sharpest and best looking one in the set, and Iím sure itís because of the digital source. The film does take a fairly sharp departure from the other films in set-up and story and this sharper look does suit the film. As the supplements across the set point out the first two films have a more general, romantic fantasy vibe to them and the slightly softer look to both (which is more of a glow in the second) really suits them. This one brings the two protagonists down to Earth in a fairly harsh manner this time around, and the more natural, less dreamy look makes more sense. Whether this is by design, though, Iím admittedly not all that sure but it works.

The details are far better, with the small details of the landscapes and various exteriors looking far sharper here in comparison to exterior shots in the other films. Colours look more natural and blacks come off very rich, with no murkiness present even in the darker interiors. Since the source is digital there are no print flaws but Delpyís polk-a-dot dress in the last portion of the film does present some shimmering problems that I think is more a byproduct of the photography. Otherwise, the image is stable, sharp and clean, with no other notable issues that stood out. In terms of a high-definition presentation itís definitely the best looking one in the set.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

We get a 5.1 surround track presented in DTS-HD MA on this edition. Like the other films this one is very talky and is made up of long scenes and even long takes, but itís still interesting comparing this film to the others in the series as itís a little more conventional in a few ways, but I think itís the sound design that sticks out more here. This one makes more use of music, this film having a score that is more upfront than the other films, and itís mixed robustly within the environment. There is also more obvious use of ambient noise in the busier locations, along the water, and even in the car. In comparison to the other films I found this soundtrack a bit more lively but still not overly ambitious. Itís again suiting and perfectly adequate for the film.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterionís box set The Before Trilogy presents all three of Richard Linklaterís filmsóBefore Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnightótogether for the first time. Each film receives their own dual-layer disc and the features are spread across all of them. Though this film might receive more attention the features otherwise donít really look at the individual films themselves, instead going over the trilogy as a whole. Because of this the features for the set seem slim and not impressive, especially for what is a fairly big release for Criterion, and theyíre even less impressive when you break it down to the individual titles. For this review I am focusing specifically on the features available on the disc for Before Midnight.

(As a note, if you have not seen any or all of these films previously, it is highly recommended to go through all of the films in the set first before visiting any of the special features as they will contain spoilers.)

Interestingly this is the only title to feature an audio commentary, though I suspect itís because this track is a pre-existing one. I didnít listen to it but this appears to be the original track recorded for the Sony Blu-ray, recorded in 2013 and featuring director Richard Linklater and actors/writers Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Going through the features on the set itís obvious the three have become close friends and this track has that loose feel of three close friends just sharing stories with one another. Itís a loose and funny track but fairly informative, the three recalling the long process that went into developing the story and the basis for the scenarios and some of the lines in the film. They joke with one another a lot throughout, and Delpy, quite amusingly, has to keep reminding herself to speak up throughout as she gets caught up in watching the film (she admits she is not used to doing an audio commentary). Though a lot of this material is actually shared in other features what makes the commentary of value is that they do become more focused on particular scenes in the film, getting very detailed about them, the fight scene especially. Itís a good track and itís a shame Criterion and/or the three participants didnít feel the need to record new tracks for the other films, but this one is still a good track and Iím happy Criterion at least carried this over.

The other features also choose to look more at the development of this particular film and, to a minor extent, the other films. After Before is a 2016 documentary put together by coproducer Athina Rachel Tsangari from footage shot during the development of the film. Most of the footage is of Delpy, Hawke, and Linklater (dealing with what appears to be a broken foot) sitting around working through the filmís story and individual scenes. We hear all about their development sessions throughout the supplements so itís nice to see first-hand footage of these sessions, which seem to be incredibly relaxed. We also get to see behind-the-scene footage related to the sequences being discussed.

The disc then closes with a 40-minute radio interview featuring the three together again and hosted by Terry Gross. The three are there to promote the film during its initial release and they talk about their working relationship, how this film came together, and the previous two films. There is a lot of repetition of material mentioned in other features (Linklater on the story that inspired the original film, life events that inspired things in the film, etc.) but there is some new material scattered about with more specific comments on certain scenes in the third film.

Not a lot admittedly, and like the other discs in the set this one does come off a bit underwhelming, but the behind-the-scenes feature and the audio commentary are both very good.

7/10

CLOSING

Though the features are good they still leave a bit to be desired. The presentation, though, is sharp and the best looking one in the set.




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