The “Before” factor

I recently found out that Before Midnight is coming to movie theatres in these days: I can’t tell how surprised I am (or hold my happyness either) to know that Richard Linklater has decided to give us a third installment in what can now be called a saga.

For those of you unfamiliar with the previous chapters, Before Sunrise tells the story of how two 20 something met on a train in the summer of 1994 and spent one day in Vienna, falling in love without never having the chance to meet again, the girl (Julie Delpy) being french and the guy (Ethan Hawke) being american, thus living thousands kilometers away. Before Sunset is set – and filmed – 9 years after the first movie, and shows the couple meeting again. I won’t tell you anything more because if you haven’t watched them yet, this is the right moment, and I guess I may have given away some plot points already.

Anyway, I’m not implying that this story is a direct inspiration for The Wakefield Variation, but connections are not hard to find, also considering how steadily these movies reside in my imagination. Time passing by is the most obvious reference, and the nine years between the first two movies are pretty close to our idea of how long Wakefield’s exile should have last. What I loved about the second movie, is that it made you feel like only a couple of months had passed (and Jesse/Ethan Hawke says that too!): the amazing dialogue and chemistry between the characters/actors let the audience feel that an afternoon spent together, condensed in a mere 75 minute movie, would be more than enough to fill in the blanks of almost a decade spent apart.

Again, I won’t go deeper in the plot analysis, yet I’ve always imagined that the day Wakefield met Eleanor again, it would be like their connection was never gone, and not because of the wiretapping or the hidden cameras. I know that the situation is completely different, and the cliffhanger we used to end the pilot episode doesn’t add much to the feelings Eleanor may or may not still have for Wakefield, but:

  1. Wakefield has been watching Eleanor for all these years… he may be obsessed, disturbed, whatever, but he’s not stupid, and I take all the responsabilities here saying that the series will not go in a direction for which it was all a dream, or anything like that. He did what he did for a reason, and if he kept watching her, he must have known there still was a tiny chance for them (whatever that means).
  2. the newspaper clippings should be some hint 🙂

Although the series development has just begun (and I’m sorry to admit that it’s going to be a while before we can watch anything) I’d like to point out that when I’m talking about connection I don’t mean pure uncompromised love: beyond the mistery, The Wakefield Variation is basically the story of a tricky relationship, something that won’t be overlooked. Also remember that a relationship involves (at least) two people, so our story won’t be just Wakefield’s point of view.

Let’s now put fictional characters aside for a moment, and ask yourself the question: “will I ever be able to completely forget that specific important person – boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever, you say – from 9 (or 7, or 12, or 20 it doesn’t matter) years ago?” Let me be skeptical of any positive answer to that. So if time passing by doesn’t affect us, with all the real life issues, how could Celine, Jesse, Eleanor or Wakefield be affected? 🙂

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise


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