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This is the third (and maybe last?) film in the series that started with Before Sunrise, and continued with Before Sunset.  Just as Before Sunset was set nine years after Before Sunrise, both in the story and in real life, so Before Midnight was made and set nine years after Before Sunset.  This review contains MAJOR spoilers for Before Midnight, and minor spoilers for Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.

Jesse and Celine have been a couple since the events of the previous film, and have twin seven year old daughters.  They live in Paris, but for this film is set in the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, where they have been staying for six weeks.  It starts with Jesse at the airport with his son Henry (Hank).  Hank has been spending the summer with Jesse and Celine and is now heading home to Chicago, and Jesse is concerned that he is not more available for his son, and that he does not see Hank as much as he would like.  Meanwhile Celine is at a career crossroads – she has been offered a job with the French government, and is considering taking it.

Like the two preceding films, Before Midnight is very dialogue heavy, and the acting is superb, with the two leads perfectly portraying all the frustrations, concerns and observations of their situation(s).  Unlike the other two films however, there is quite a lot of interaction with other characters, especially in the first half of this film.  There is one scene where they eat dinner with their hosts in Greece, and other people who are also stopping there, where they all talk about love, life and relationships.  It’s wonderfully acted and enjoyable viewing, but it does feel slightly unusual to see Jesse and Celine interacting with other people (particularly in some scenes where they are separately interacting with others).

It moves into more familiar territory when Jesse and Celine walk around the city together, and talk about what the future might hold for them.  They then go to a hotel room which has been booked for them, and this is where the tension which has been bubbling under the surface for so much of the film, breaks free, and their relationship really seems to be under threat.

I cannot say that I didn’t enjoy this film, and if you have seen the other two, you kind of HAVE to watch this one.  However, whereas the others left me with a feeling of optimism and possibility, this one was a bit of a downer.  Obviously Jesse and Celine have been together for a long time and have the day-to-day responsibility of looking after their daughters, as well as Celine’s job worries and Jesse’s concerns about his son.  In short – things are no longer all hearts and flowers, because reality has well and truly set in.  That’s normal and expected.  But I came away from Before Midnight thinking that if there is a fourth film, I cannot see them still being a couple another nine years down the road. There are accusations of infidelity, signs that neither is really happy with their life together, and the very real possibility that the dream is over and they perhaps should break up.  The ending is less ambiguous than the ending for either Before Sunrise or Before Sunset, but long-term prospects for Jesse and Celine do not seem certain.

I’m certainly glad I watched it – the setting is gorgeous, and as mentioned before, the acting is perfect – but if I’m watching Jesse and Celine’s story in future, I think I’ll stop after Before Sunset.

Year of release: 2013

Director: Richard Linklater

Producers: Richard Linklater, Liz Glotzer, Jacob Pechenik, Martin Shafer, Lelia Andronikou, Kostas Kefalas, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Vincent Palmo Jr., John Sloss, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Sara Woodhatch

Writers: Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delphy

Main cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delphy, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Panos Koronis, Walter Lassally

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Click here for my review of Before Sunrise.

Click here for my review of Before Sunset.

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