Jonathan Case’s review published on Letterboxd:
"If you want love, then this is it. This is real life. It's not perfect, but it's real."
And they stuck the landing. With Before Midnight, Richard Linklater and company have finished off one of the greatest movie trilogies ever made. I expected a lot out of this one given how great the two previous entries were and I was in no way disappointed. Again, Jesse and Céline's relationship has changed and so we get new perspectives and challenges to see them work through.
Once again, we're watching some of the best dialogue in a movie at work. I was worried I might get tired of these characters or just watching them talk, but even during the third and final film, this was not the case. It's so well written and constructed so that we are left in the dark on the details of the last nine years the characters had together that I was invested before the first scene could finish.
Even with the introduction of kids into the picture and an ex-wife in Jesse's case, Midnight is still all about about Jesse and Céline. As always, it's their perspectives on things that we are seeing. However, for the first time, we see them at odds.
The biggest surprise comes in the third act when they truly fight for the first time (that we've seen). They don't pull punches at one another verbally and it carries a great amount of weight given that the relationship we saw them build between them is at stake. As the viewer, we've been with them from the very beginning and to see them on the verge of falling apart is not unlike watching a couple you know in real life come undone.
Before Midnight, while not my personal favorite of the trilogy, ends it well. Although, I could see another being made in another nine years and I have no doubt it would be just as compelling.
Now, I did make some observations about the trilogy as a whole that I'd like to share. I'm sure it's possible that these have been made by others on the internet given the following these films have, but like I said, these are just some things I gathered.
I know I’m probably overthinking these films, their titles, and their meanings, but as I look at them as a trio after having seen all three, I like the big picture I see them altogether form. Also, pardon my pretension.
Sunrise is the beginning of the day and also the beginning of the trilogy. Looking upon a sunrise can evoke a feeling of wonder and excitement for all the possibilities that are in the day ahead. Jesse and Céline first meet in this film and while it’s not clear whether or not they will work out some day or not, it is hopeful nonetheless.
Sunset occurs at the close of the day and one could look at it and think on what they did that day. Sunset is the midpoint in their story and this is where the two reconnect. Jesse and Céline catch up on what they had accomplished while apart as well as all the hardships they’d endured. We see them enjoying one another at the close of this chapter, but we know that the “day” between them has not yet ended.
Midnight is the final moment of one day before a new one begins. Here, Jesse and Céline are together and have a family. They are questioning their relationship and the concept of what a relationship is and should be for most of the film. The arguing that goes on between them toward the end is the darkest we’ve seen their relationship/world together be and it takes place in the film titled for a time at night. However, while midnight may mark the end of one day, it’s also the beginning of another. In the final moments of the this final film, they talk of their life together in the future and what it could be. By the way they talk, they are looking at their life in a hopeful manner, albeit different than the hope from before when they first met. They’ve seen more and lived more so that manifests itself in a yet to occur unique and new Sunrise all the same. We won’t see it, but a new day is there to start and they will share it together.
Maybe I'm totally wrong or maybe these kind of musings have been confirmed by someone attached to the film in an interview that I am unaware of. Either way, these are just some anecdotal thoughts I had about this fantastic trilogy.