James Y. Lee’s review published on Letterboxd:
What made the two previous installments of the Before Trilogy resonate to most people was the quality they had of escapism and this kind of idealistic approach to romance; with the exception of certain climactic and dramatic scenes, it was incredibly difficult to find our two protagonists getting into any severe drama or conflict, leading to a kind of romantic rose tint being smeared on viewers' glasses and perception.
In Before Midnight, the final installment of the Before Trilogy, that rose tint of idealism is wiped spotless.
Years after Before Sunset, Jesse and Celine are now together with two children, and Jesse remains entangled in a complex marital situation while remaining engaged with Celine. Both of them have spent weeks in Greece with their children on vacation, and for the most part, it seems as if they've been doing fine... until troubles from the past that none of them have ever gotten to express before find their way out.
The writing is so incredibly refined in this film, far more than anything that Sunrise and Sunset could accomplish. The film portrays a more realistic portrait of these two people's love, and if anything, it's all for the better. As these characters slowly become defined by the endless amount of things they've been put through both financially, maritally, and familially, you slowly realize how much they've been bottling up all this time, and it leads to what is probably the greatest argument scene I have ever seen in any one movie. Without the previous two movies, this wouldn't even be half as good, but every ounce of backstory you recall from Sunrise and Sunset add to this incredibly cold portrayal of where our two characters currently stand and feel about each other. The dialogue remains absolutely amazing and natural - it only adds to this effect even further.
The acting... both Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy retain their phenomenal acting and chemistry. What else is there really to say?
All the technical aspects are now fully in control. I think what's worth noting in particular is that the entire thing's now shot on digital, so the overall experience looks better and makes for some very sharp visual contrast between the previous two films, which were both shot on film.
I really have only one thing to say about this trilogy, and it's that it's absolutely amazing. All three installments are great in their own right, and Before Midnight ends this trilogy perfectly. You get to see this relationship evolve, these characters mature, and hear all of their conversations shift into different directions with every passing movie. Before Midnight is beyond fantastic, not only because it's the final display of these two people's growth, but because it culminates the trilogy's themes about relationships and the people in them so neatly it's genuinely hard to believe how it does it so WELL. I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy, I genuinely loved to witness these characters change over the passing years, and I think Before Midnight does a perfect job of closing this story off. See this trilogy in its entirety when you have the time, it's so, so, so incredibly worth it.
To passing through. Henry. Time traveller.