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BEFORE MIDNIGHT

Present Past Future
While all three of the Jesse and Celine films are so vividly in the moment -- the second film actually unfolds in real time, and the first and third condense brief hours-long time spans -- the concept of time swirls through the entire decades-long enterprise. Past, future, aging, memory -- there's even a time-machine riff that figures in at the first meeting in 1995 and the latest confrontation in the present. It's one of many subtle grace notes that wend through the trajectory.

"The notion of time is our major subject," says Linklater. "Jumping forward to a new stage in life, backward in memory; Jesse's a novelist, he does these little digressive, retrospective flights of imagination through his books, and Celine is more firmly in the present." Linklater cites Francois Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series of films starring Jean-Pierre Leaud (The Four Hundred Blows, Love at Twenty, Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board etc.) as an inspiration to follow characters through life's progress. Delpy loves evolving with her character Celine through time: "The film is so much about time passing, but that's not a depressing thing -- they're as alive in their forties as they were in their twenties. Sometimes I read a screenplay in a Hollywood film and it's like, the woman past forty, she's angry, bitter, and I think why are you describing those women? I don't know any women like that!"

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