Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is at the airport with his son Hank who looks to be about 12. Jesse tries to engage Hank with conversation, but is met with monosyllable answers. They buy some snacks for the flight, and then walk over to the line to wait to hand over the tickets. Jesse talks about how great it’s been to have him and that he’ll come out to Chicago for Xmas and to hear Hank’s piano recital. Hank says don’t come. Jesse wants to know why not. Hank responds that it will only get his mom upset. Jesse is a little put off, and wonders aloud why she is still so mad at him after all this time. They both laugh at this. Jesse tells Hanks ‘ you know I love you and that if we lived in the same city I’d see you all the time.’ Hank says ‘I know.’
They are almost ready to hand over the tickets to have Hank go thru security. Jesse again says we really loved having you here. I hope you didn’t mind coming all the way out here for a visit. Hank finally perks up and says ‘it’s been the best summer ever’. Jesse is surprised and asks for reassurance ‘really, the best summer ever? ’ Hank confirms it’s been the best, hanging with ‘Sara’, oh, and of course you and Celine and the girls.’
After saying goodbye with a hug, Jesse stays to watch his son go all the way thru security. He then walks outside where Celine (Julia Delpy) is leaning against the car talking on the phone in French. They both get in the car, and you notice two small girls with long blonde hair asleep in the back seat.
They start driving while Celine is finishing up her phone call. She just got an offer to work for another group and she debates whether to take the job. They have a lively discussion on the merits of this opportunity. Jesses tells her they offered her a position last year, and she said she couldn’t stand the guy who would be her boss. He is unethical. Celine says that she is just sick of what she is doing for non-profit and wants to make some money. Jesse tells her that she would be selling herself out but that he’s not going to tell her what to do. He’s going to support any decision she makes.
While discussing this new job, they are driving thru the country side in Greece. The pass some ruins, and she tells him to stop as Nina wanted to see the ruins. Jesse says they are both asleep and that they will make time to see it when they are on the way back to the airport. Celine says that they always leave late and will be rushing and probably won’t have time to see it on the way back. What will they tell the girls? Jesse jokes that they will learn an important life lesson, that if you snooze, you lose.
Jesse gets hungry and decides to take the partially eaten apple from one of the sleeping twins. Celine again says with a smile -What are you going to tell her when she wakes up. I can’t believe you are stealing food from your own child. Jesse says he’s sure she won’t remember she was eating an apple when she fell asleep. After he finishes eating the apple, he throws the core out the window.
The get close to their destination, and the girls wake up. Nina asks about the ruin, and Ella asks about her apple. Jesse quickly explains that they will stop to see the ruin on the way back, and they ask Ella if she is sure she had an apple when she went to sleep. She confirms that she remembers she had an apple. Both Celine and Jesse pretend to look around the car for the apple, as if it fell on the floor of the car.
They arrive at their friend’s house. Everyone is playing soccer on the back patio. Celine helps make lunch in the kitchen and talks about what makes relationships work. Jesse is out on the patio and talks with the guys about the concept for his next book. He has two books published. One of them, about how he first met Celine. The second book is on how they reconnected after 9 years. This new book will be about several people going to the same event, like see a movie, but seeing it very differently. For example; One old woman constantly has déjà vu, so she thinks she’s been there before. Another guy sees everything as it happened in the past. So he experiences the movie as when he first viewed in 1957. Etc.
Lunch is ready, and they eat outside under a portico. The conversation is about what makes a relationship last. At the table, a young couple share how they met the evening before she was leaving to go home. So they stayed up all night, and then skyped every day when they were apart. A middle aged couple talked about their secret of accepting each other’s quirks and craziness.
They young couple ask how Celine and Jesse met. They share how they met on a train 20 years ago. That event continued to haunt Jesse, so he wrote a book about the experience. Celine read the book and looked him up when the book tour came to France 9 years later. When she found him again, he was married, and had a kid. He has since divorced. The first time they had sex after they reconnected, she got pregnant, and had the twins. They have been together ever since.
Celine said the secret to their happy marriage is to let the man think that he was smarter and better than the woman. When Celine first met Jesse, they played pinball. She was getting a high score, so she just let the ball drop down the table and didn’t try to save it. This ended her turn allowed him to win. Jesse claimed that was a lie, and that he beat her fairly at pinball. Celine demonstrates her point by play acting that she is a breathy, innocent, naïve girl and that she is impressed and in awe of Jesse as he’s an author. Jesse tries to logically reply to her innocent questions, but you can see he starts to relax and puff up with confidence about being seen as so smart and talented.
After lunch, the other middle aged couple gives Celine and Jesse a gift of staying the night in town at a hotel. Celine doesn’t want to accept the gift, but the other couple insists.
In the late afternoon, Jesse and Celine walk into town. She asks Jesse, ‘ What don’t you hear?’ He says he doesn’t hear any small feet pattering behind them, tripping over anything. They have never spent a night away from the girls. As they are walking, Celine get’s a phone call. It’s Hank calling to say he’s arrived at Athens. Jesse motions for the phone, but Celine finishes the call and hangs up. They argue a little bit about why she always does that, doesn’t give him the phone. She brushes it off saying it was just a quick call to say he was in Athens, you just saw him, what’s the problem.
As they walk the talk more about their relationship, how they reconnected. She accuses him of always looking at young women. She feels like an old 43 year old woman. She asks him if he met her on a train today, would he still ask her to get off the train with him. He comes up with an answer, but it’s not a firm ‘yes’ or something romantic that she was hoping for. She tells him he had a chance to be romantic, and he blew it.
They get into town and talk about his aunt the just died. She had been married for 50 years. They would have to be together for another 32 years to hit that number. Jesse asks ‘Do they think they can stand being together for another 32 years.’ Celine pauses in her response. Jesse tells Celine she had a chance to be romantic, and she blew it.
They have a drink at a little bistro that has seating overlooking the water. They count the minutes until the sun finally sets saying ‘Still there’.
They village is rustic, but their hotel is modern inside and has all the niceties of a 4-star hotel. The registration clerk at the hotel asks to have Jesse sign her copies of his book. She asks Celine to sign it too, since she is the reason he wrote both books. She declines, but Jesse says she will sign them. Celine’s a little angered from the incident.
When she gets to their room, she vents that she doesn’t’ want to be in any other books he writes. Their private life needs to be private. Their friends have included a bottle of wine, and a couple’s massage. Celine is wondering what they are doing in a place like this. We are not couples massage people. She talks more about her job decision. He starts to talk about Hank saying that this was the best summer ever. Jesse is thinking it’s because Hank came out to visit him. Celine tells him of course it was his best summer ever, he had his first kiss.
Jesse is shocked. Hank was hanging out with ‘Sara,’ but he kissed her? Hank didn’t tell him anything. Celine said he told her but also said not to tell anyone. Jesse then starts to talk about how great it would be if Hank could join their family. Celine says she would love that. She also reminds him that his wife will never allow that. Jesse’s ex-wife used the opportunity when Celine was in the hospital having complications with the birth of the twins, to move Hank out to Chicago.
Jesse is shy to bring up the subject but thought he’d just put it out there, that perhaps, just think about it, but maybe they could relocate to Chicago. Celine tells him if his ex granted them joint custody she would do it. Jesse won’t go back to the lawyers and she won’t move herself and the girls for just babysitting Hank a couple weekends a month.
He starts to get romantic. She then teases him about putting their sex life in his book, and that he made it sound like it was amazing sex on the train, but in reality he’s pretty formulaic with his foreplay routine. She then recites his foreplay routine.
Then she gets another phone call. It’s Hank. Again Celine does not pass Jesse the phone. Jesse is pretty angry, and again brings up moving to Chicago. This starts a pretty heated fight. Celine tells Jesse that he always gets like this when he drops Hank off at the airport. Wait a week and if he still feels the same they can discuss it, but not right now when he is hurting so much.
They continue to fight about how much each as sacrificed for the relationship. He has left his son in Chicago, moved to Paris to be with Celine. He can write anywhere so he chose to be with her since they could not live in Chicago.
She has sacrificed for him already, and that she will not do this sacrifice that he is asking for such little time with Hank. That when he’s away on the book tour, she’s basically a single parent, having to do everything. He responds about how hard he’s working to support her and the kids. He’s doing the book tour to promote the books that gives them the money to do all the things they like to do, including this trip.
She tells him that he still believes in fairies. Fairies that magically pack bags, clean the house, and put clean clothes back in your drawers. For this trip, Jesse packed his bag, but who does he think packed the girls bags, and brought the groceries?
She leaves the room. He lets out a huge breath and falls on the sofa face down. She comes back, gets her shoes and tells him this time she really means it, she is done with him. When he was on the book tour with the kids were really small, she would sometimes cry. Everyone thinks a woman naturally knows how to raise kids, but there were so many times she didn’t know what to do, and he wasn’t there. When he called to ask how things were, she would just tell him things were fine, but she was really a mess.
He tells her that no one expects her to know everything, and that is crazy. She is an amazing mother. She is a little crazy on her ideas, but that doesn’t matter. He accepts her for all her craziness and the amazing person that she is.
Celine slams out of the room. Jesse looks around, realizes she is not coming back, and goes out looking for her. He panics and his pace quickens as he cannot easily find her.
He finally finds her sitting at a table at the Bistro near the water. He asks if she is using all the chairs at her table. Celine replies she wants to be alone. He replies he didn’t mean to bother her, and just wanted to borrow a chair as the place is really crowded. Jesse is pretending that he’s meeting her for the first time. She doesn’t want to talk to him. He replies he understands when people don’t want to talk to strangers, but he’s not really a stranger. He’s that guy. That funny romantic guy she met on a train 13 years ago. He tells her he was in a time machine and met Celine 37 years in the future. He says he has a message written down from the future Celine to be given to the present day Celine. He starts to read from a blank napkin. This is Celine writing to my younger self. I am still together with my true love. Things were not always easy, but we stayed together. There was also a time when visiting the Greek Isles that I had the most amazing night of sex. Oh hey we’re on some Greek Isles right now…. Do you think she was maybe talking about now?
Celine sarcastically asks Is that the best you can do?
Jesse replies I’m still here, and I’m trying. If you think there is some other kind of true love out there, I hate to tell you, but that is a fairy tale. This is true love.
They silently sit next to each other, but looking away from each other. A full minute passes. Celine finally turns and asks, in her naïve persona - ‘About this time machine…. Do you have to have sex in order to go to another place in time?’
The camera moves away as they reengage in playful banter.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
Brought to you by
Jesse and Celine are on vacation in the Greek Isles with their two twin girls. Jesse’s 12 yr old son is leaving for the US after spending 2 weeks with them. After he leaves, Jesse feels sentimental and wants to explore moving to Chicago to live closer to his son. Celine says she cannot make that sacrifice, moving the girls, quitting her work etc, for just 2 weekends a month. As the day goes on, their disagreement brings up other relationship issues, and the arguments escalate until Celine walks out on Jesse. The last scene, Jesse finds her sitting at a Bistro. He asks her to see that their relationship, with all its quirks and craziness, is true love. After a tense minute of silence, Celine reengages in conversation and the movie ends with their playful banter as at the start of the film.
You can send in your spoiler to other movies by going here.