Before Midnight

Before Midnight ★★★★½

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

This review may contain spoilers.

At some point, “reality” was going to have to set in for these characters. I don’t mean being separated by time or distance like in the other movies, rather having to juggle their romantic relationship with the rest of their lives, and that’s what “Before Midnight” is all about. 

This movie was more romantically brutal than the previous two. We witness an unprecedented amount of arguing and resentment between the two characters. SPOILERS: they have been together for nine years and have two daughters of their own, as well as Jessie’s son from his previous marriage. While not entirely relying on the stress of raising a family to generate built-up tension between Jessie and Celine, the film does harness that stress and uses it to catalyze major arguments. 

The dialogue is, yet again, the backbone of this story - even if it is, admittedly, a bit corny at times. That’s just how these movies work. However, in this movie it seemed like Linklater as well as the two leads were more self-aware of the pretentious vibes some people get from this trilogy and poked fun at it a little bit. Which is just one of the many ways in which “Before Midnight” feels like it is more in the real world

Themes touching on the idea of true love compared to a sort of romantic fatalism as well as remaining an individual and retaining personal freedom in a relationship are at the heart of the story this movies wants to tell. I think this movie executes in exploring these themes almost perfectly. And the moral of this film, and the trilogy for that matter, is best represented by the final scene. To summarize, there is a reference to a time machine, and if the two characters want to continue loving each other, and laboring for the idea of true love despite the growing imperfection they continue to see in their relationship, then they have to use the time machine. I don’t want to give everything away because I’m a sucker, and I love how they execute this scene. 

Shifting gears, this film sticks to the walking-and-talking format and I’m so happy it did. We also get hypnotizing tracking shots of car rides, dinner table conversation, walks through Greece and passionate, organic feeling arguments that cut deep. Linklater, Delpy and Hawke know what makes these films tick, and took their formula to an even greater height this time around. 

“Before Midnight” is a beautiful movie, and the trilogy is my new favorite thing. It’s possibly the most interesting and compelling cinematic examination of love I’ve ever watched. The format for these films lend themselves to thorough and cathartic looks into the lifelong love story of one fascinating couple. 

I’m like most people, I believe that three is a magic number. There’s something so perfect about a trilogy. But I might give my little finger for a great fourth film in this series.

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