Sunday, July 14, 2013

Two people in a car, conversing

Last night Mr. and Mrs. Amnesiac had a long-needed date night. Accordingly, we saw the movie Before Midnight.
Much like its predecessors, its a fine movie, especially for couples. It has already been written up in the hallowed columns of The New Yorker, along with, presumably, many other journals. Disaster Amnesiac does not want to try to review it per se, but to simply expound upon one scene in particular.
After a brief opening sequence, in which Ethan Hawke's character is seen sending his son off from an airport in Greece, the viewer is treated to lengthy one in which Hawke and Julie Delpy spend several minutes talking with each other. What struck me as the scene unfolded, minute after minute after minute, was how courageous a scene it is. This, in the sense that films and television generally feature individual scenes that last a minute, maybe two minutes, tops. For this viewer, director Richard Linklater used the scene, and its pacing, as a comment on and a challenge to contemporary attention spans. I must admit that it was somewhat tough for me to keep my attention focused on the screen, with its simple framing of two people in a car, having a conversation, with hardly any cuts away (save for a few simple frames, showing the Greek countryside). Disaster Amnesiac imagined that many others probably have felt this same challenge. In a time when the scenes in our lives shift with such speed, and conversations generally amount to two sides by turns making declarations at each other, this long opening scene, featuring two people simply talking to each other, was humbling and instructive.
I don't know too much about film, so maybe there are many other examples of this technique being used, currently and recently, but, if there are, I am not aware of them. As such, Before Midnight was a very satisfying viewing experience for me.

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