Directed by Richard Linklater
We meet Jesse and Celine nine years on in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on that train bound for Vienna.
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★★★★★ review by Katie on Letterboxd
"If you want true love, then this is it."
I love being depressed and wanting to die!
★★★★½ review by Adam Cook on Letterboxd
Whilst Before Midnight, the concluding chapter (or is it?) in Jesse and Celine’s decades spanning romantic saga, is as insightful, intimate and articulate as the preceding installments it proves to be quite a different experience. Gone is the hopefulness of youth and in its place is the pragmatism of adult life as the fairy tale couple come to terms with the reality of their relationship.
Richard Linklater’s Before… series is one of the finest relationship dramas in all of cinema. Spanning twenty years and some of Europe’s most beautiful cities, the trilogy has emotionally grown with the characters and audience. Whilst both Before Sunrise, and to a lesser extent, Before Sunset, were built on the optimism of a what-if fantasy, the latest chapter reveals the reality behind their happily ever after daydream.
Tellingly set in the Southern Peloponnese peninsula of Greece, Jesse and Celine, with a nine-year relationship behind them and two cherubic children in tow, enjoy a long summer vacation in the company of friends. However, the idyllic setting masks the difficulties of life, both personal and professional, that weigh constantly on the relationship.
The location of Greece perfectly reflects the couple’s relationship; their sense of history together and the turbulent nature of recent events. What is most fascinating about this latest visitation into the lives of Jesse and Celine is how it manages to feel familiar yet so very different to the earlier films. It still possesses the same love of language, emotional honesty and natural chemistry that has beguiled audiences for decades but for the first time it explores the daily grinds of a relationship and the constant struggle to simply stay in love.
For the first time external characters are introduced into this former fantasy bubble yet their presence simply reflects the nine years of baggage the couple have accumulated. Although these sequences still possess the sparkling and philosophical dialogue that has come to characterise the series it is when Jesse and Celine are alone that the film truly soars.
Forced to confront their relationship the film explores issues of gender, family and responsibility as their relationship threatens to descend into Greek tragedy during a romantic night away from the children. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are so intrinsically connected to their characters and attuned to their partner that these increasingly heated exchanges possess a rawness as if watching a genuine bickering couple.
Having lived and grown with this couple over the decades it is amazing how emotionally invested the audience become in the success and happiness of the pairing. As they dig up shared history and painful memories it is constantly contrasted in the audience’s mind with the image of the youthful couple that seemed destined to be with each other. It is a film that deconstructs the notion of a soul mate and fantasy romances without resorting to bitter cynicism. To borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, the course of true love never did run smooth, and Before Midnight beautifully captures this friction between the notion of romance and the practicalities of life.
Whether this really is our final meeting with Celine and Jesse time will tell but Before Midnight is an intimate, emotionally rich and exquisitely performed chapter in one of cinema’s finest love stories. It provides a fitting conclusion to a wonderful love affair without resorting to pat resolutions and neat closure. Beautiful.
★★★★ review by brat pitt on Letterboxd
BYE i didn't sign up for the harsh realities of love!!!! BRING BACK THE ROMANTIC ESCAPISM GODDAMMIT I DON'T LIKE SEEING JULIE DELPY UPSET
★★★★★ review by Larry on Letterboxd
"Its still there. Its still there. Is still there. Its gone..."
Jesse and Celine are sitting at a little bistro table next to each other while staring out at the sun setting behind a hill in southern Greece. They are at a nice little place by the waterside and there are torches lit, and quiet conversations going on in the background. You can almost feel the warm breeze and taste the oceanic air. They are both staring at the setting sun and Celine is commenting on how its still there, still there, and then its gone below the hill. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy's age lined faces are now cast in shadow and a slight frown appears on both of their mouths. Something IS gone isn't it? But what? What is blocking the warm sun? What is that hill?
I cant imagine the people who had to wait years between the last two films. Thats rough... Ive only just got into the Sunrise/Sunset films and its only been a couple weeks since I saw the last one. I wasnt sure how I was going to see this one, but after a long day of work and a 40 minute drive to the nearest theater showing it, I have finally seen Before Midnight. And I have to say... This one is special.
Richard Linklater returns for the third time to show us glimpses into the lives of characters that he created in 1994, and continued to exist off screen until now. Linklater uses his classic style to explore new regions of Jesse and Celine's relationship, and the results this time around are very.... Stressful to say the least. But if you can believe it or not, its a good kind of stressful. You know a film has great characterization and writing when it makes you feel such strong emotions, good or bad. Afterall, we dont feel strong good or bad emotions unless we genuinelly care. If Before Sunrise was the bittersweet bliss of new love, and Before Sunset was the splash of reality, then Before Midnight was the gun in the mouth, and the finger trembling on the trigger. This one threatens to change everything. Drastically. I will not spoil anything at all, but just know that this one touches the tenderest of emotions and the most painful repressed memories. We hear things come out of Jesse and Celine's mouth that warm our hearts one minute and cut like a knife the next. Jesse is for the most part the same old guy we know and love. He still does that trick with the oranges bouncing on his arm and he still tries to make serious situations lighthearted with a joke or fake accent. But he reacts differently under stress and he seems to be hiding something. Celine on the other hand is a a little more straightforward with her new personality. In addition to being a little more Americanized, she is a little firecracker here. She is catty and sometimes her japes and jokes towards Jesse have a little sting to them. They must be coming from somewhere, right? What the Hell happened between now and last time?
I would advise against reading anything about this film. This review is no exception. Go into it like I did. No trailers. No reviews. No plot synopses. No nothing! Just go. Jesse and Celine start this film off a little differently from the other films because they aren't necessarily strangers this time. This one breaks some of the formulas and is very thematically different from the other two. But its so so so damn good because of it. It changes how you view the other films and offers up a third part to an overarching theme on love that had been started with Sunrise. I would be fine with this being the last film in the series as it provides a hopeful end cap for the trilogy. If you look at it from Sunrise, we see love blossom, question itself, come back, implode and last eternally. The three generations of Jesse and Celine all have different opinions on relationships and love, but in this one it all comes together beautifully. Even the inevitable crashes are beautiful in their own weird way. God damn, the last half hour of this film is rough. I was biting on my nails in suspense just because of an argument. I was worried that the screen would cut to black any minute and the "Directed By Richard Linklater" words would pop up, ending the film prematurely. I was scared for how this would end. I was nervous. I was transfixed. This film is downright infectious. Linklater continues his trend of humanistic dialogue and personal filming style. SPOILER ALERT! They walk. And talk. And its glorious. The rich hills of Greece and colorful culture is on full display in the background and its a nice change of pace from the cities from the first two. This film is almost like a retirement spot or return to nature or retreat from old feelings. Its very different but just the same. Once the film gets going, you are swept up into the world of Jesse and Celine that Linklater creates effortlessly. Its only been a few weeks since I saw Sunset, but it still felt like it was a long overdue reunion. But the characters here are not a few weeks older. They are much different underneath. They can do their classic walk and talk all they want, but they aren't fooling the viewer. Something is up. And the way the film explores this is heartbreaking and uplifting all in the same.
This one is a testament to everlasting relationships and Its a nonviolent attack on the Hollywood idea of love. Before Midnight is the romance film of the generation and completely changes how I looked at the other two. This one was the most difficult to review but all I know is that each off these films is a puzzle that also functions as a piece in the big picture. These 3 films lock together to form one of the greatest stories ever told. One is not better than the other. There is no weak one. They each show a different side of love and combine to capture the very essence of life. I am going back to change all my ratings.
These films are perfect. Simplicity done to perfection.
And as a man of simple tastes, these films are the most delicate of indulgences.
Thank you based Linklater.
★★★½ review by Lucy on Letterboxd
"well... it must have been one hell of a night we're about to have"
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