Richard Linklater on 'Before Midnight' and the relationship between narrative and time
I wouldn't say that Rick Linklater and I are friends, because that implies more familiarity than there actually is, but I would say that after spending over a decade going to film events in Austin, we're friendly. There's that moment of recognition when we run into each other, and that certainly made for a nice shortcut when I showed up at the Four Seasons on Tuesday to talk to him about his latest film, "Before Midnight."
The film opens today in limited release in NY, LA, and Austin, and then goes wider on June 14th. It is absolutely one of the best films you're going to see this year, and I think it enriches an already wonderful series by adding the perspective that only comes with time.
Time seems to be something that interests Linklater, and the impact it has on narrative in his work is something that seems to me to be worth closer inspection. The nine years between each of the films in the "Before" series have to pass, because the films only work if there is real life experience that each of the performers can bring to the table when they get back together to start writing each film. The kids we see in "Before Sunrise" have very little in common with the adults who star in "Before Midnight," but because there's that film in the middle between the two, it's possible for us as an audience to see how they've gotten from one point to the other.
Linklater is also nearing the end of the process on "Boyhood," or whatever he ends up calling the twelve-year project he's been working on, shooting a little bit of film each year with a kid from the age of six to the age of eighteen. Ethan Hawke has also been part of that film, playing the father to the kid, and I can't wait to see how this one plays out. Instead of having a big chronological jump from film to film as in the "Before" series, this is all about the gradual shifts from year to year.
Our industry is frequently all about turning things out quickly, so the patience it takes to make the films that Linklater makes is uncommon, and it's one of the things that makes him who he is. I feel like out of all of the guys who broke big in the early '90s, Linklater has always been one of the most humble and invisible, a guy with a very clear voice who never seems to make it all about himself. The work is what matters, and maybe because he's avoided the spotlight, he has remained the same genuine, unaffected guy the entire time I've known him.
We'll have our conversation with the stars of the film a little closer to the wide release, but for today, check out my review of the movie from Sundance, check out this interview with Linklater, and then hunt down "Before Midnight" in theaters for one of the best experiences you can possibly have in a movie theater right now.