Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★

The third installment in the Before trilogy finds Jesse and Celine still together 9 years further on from the previous entry; they're holidaying in Greece and dealing with the general malaise that seems to set in with most relationships once the couple reaches midlife. The dreamy optimism has transformed into brittle reality as what was once two individuals discovering a special connection is now a family unit attempting to navigate the difficult phases of life.

Although this is a solid effort, I think it's the weakest of the trilogy because I don't buy the character progressions. I don't fault the performances of Ethan Hawke or Julie Delpy as they're extremely expressive and believable once again, but it feels like Linklater took the simple and overly melodramatic route in depicting a couple in crisis. It doesn't match these characters; Jesse was always a little pompous but he's too passive-aggressive here and Celine is now an unreasonable, whining hypocrite. I get that it's meant to be a more realistic image of a relationship changing over time, but I'm not sure I accept that these two would ever act so nastily toward one another or that their ability to understand each other would break down so much. The arguments are well-staged (Linklater's invisible observer style direction is very good as usual) but it's the type of stuff we've seen countless times and it doesn't add anything of note to the mix.

It's more mildly frustrating than anything because I did find this to be an engaging expierence for the most part and it was interesting to see how it approached romance at a stage in life that isn't focused on all that much in cinema; it's just that by the time the final scene had transpired I was left with an uncertain aftertaste. As for the trilogy as a whole, I don't really get the massive acclaim but there's definitley an appeal in feeling like you've been part of the journey that these two characters have been on.

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