Silent J’s review published on Letterboxd:
This film is a lot like Jesse’s third book...ambitious and too long.
The only difference is unlike Jesse’s book, this is not the best in the series. This is the most disappointing.
What made Before Sunrise so great is that it was just two strangers spending a day together in hopes of finding some kind of chemistry. What made Before Sunset even better was the fact we saw those same characters who have established separate lives 9 years later and spend a day together discussing "what-ifs" if they continued their relationship. Both films were beautiful because we were seeing two characters slowly finding what many of us desire to find...love. It felt natural and to some extent, even real. Richard Linklater wanted to inject these characters into a more real world and that leads us to seeing our characters live as a couple since the events of Before Sunset and therefore tear that love apart. It could have worked, but in trying to make Jesse and Celine feel as real as ever, he may have accidently made the film not so very organic.
What I mean is that Linklater didn't have to try and make the film feel more natural because the last two felt so honest already. This one feels like some sort of a stage play and the most dramatic moments feel the most forced. It doesn't come off as real. Some parts work, but more often than not, they don't and they don't feel real. The ideas feel real, but they're presented in such an unreal fashion that it can turn one off of them film. There are some parts that make for an interesting watch, like the car conversation and some parts of the hotel scene and even the climax, but that's mostly due to the absolutely fantastic performances of Julie Deply and Ethan Hawke. Watching them is like watching two expert chess players play the most dull game of chess for an audience who doesn't care about chess.
The biggest problem is that there seems like there's no point to this film other than to drive these characters apart and unveil their sheer ugliness about themselves. We knew from the last film that these were not perfect characters, but this film shows them in such a bad light at times that its hard to like them or care for them. I think just about everyone who saw the last two films wanted these two to get together and seeing how they treat each other now, why should I want them to stay together?
I like all of the Before... films, but this is clearly the weakest in the trilogy. Don't say I didn't like it very much because of high expectations because I was one of the first ones to say "this isn't going to work". Turns out Linklater proved me right.
I hope this is the last one because I can only see things going more downhill for Jesse and Celine.