Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Before Sunrise had a magical romanticism to it that made for an excellent film. Before Sunset was a brilliant follow-up that felt more grounded and melancholy but still retained the charm that made the first one special.

Before Midnight feels very different to the previous two entries in many ways. First of all, instead of Jesse and Céline meeting again after almost another decade, they are already together, this time as a family with two kids. It's also very tonally different, with a much more realistic and pessimistic depiction of their relationship, brought about by all sorts of family and relationship related stress and the expectations of life in general. It's much more thematically heavy than Sunrise or Sunset, challenging the very concept of how fantastical those films were and how glorified love is in general, and is a much more difficult film to watch as as result. The second half of the film in particular is immensely devastating, but it's an astounding example of transcendent film-making, with its real-time direction, continually convincing and this time soul shattering performances from Hawke and Delpy and the writing that Richard Linklater and the aforementioned two actors bring. Even though it broke my heart to see their characters spiraling down a pit of conflict and despair, I couldn't take my eyes away.
There's so much about the film to say, but having only just seen it and feeling overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions about it, I couldn't possibly write about them all now. But what I will say is that Before Midnight concludes the trilogy in a way that I didn't expect or wasn't prepared for, but perhaps was the only way it could've truly ended, and is another masterpiece, even if for different reasons.