Before Midnight doesn’t have the same idealized romantic tone of the first two movies in the series, but it still manages to enrapture an audience with nothing more than talking. Before Sunrise had a youthful verve with the kind of romance only that only comes around at that age. Before Sunset revisited the characters nine years later when they were a little more equipped to deal with their feelings even though their adult lives had begun. The film ends with Jesse considering abandoning his life in America, including his wife and son, to stay with Celine in Paris. Before Midnight takes place nine years after Sunset and deals with the ramifications of that decision.
Jesse stayed with Celine and they now have twin daughters together. The film finds them finishing a summer vacation in Greece where they have been the guests of an aging writer. The wistful longing from Sunset has been replaced by the bitterness of a life lived together. Where Sunrise and Sunset were about making a connection, Midnight is about trying to hold that connection. Life is unforgiving and it’s much harder to maintain a relationship rather than hold onto the feeling you get over a romantic two days over the course of nine years. Sunset’s nostalgia and longing are now regret and resentment. That is not to say that this is a bitter, cynical, or negative film. There is still love, although for the first time, there is a life around that love and life is never as pretty.
I don’t want or need to say much about the plot. Fans of the series will be familiar with the way the story is presented. There are ridiculously long takes where you just see people talking, although, for the first time there is a dinner scene where other characters share the screen. This is a chance to catch up with Jesse and Celine 18 years after we met them. I am enamored with the beauty and realism of this film as I have always been with this series. I admit to being unsure how this film would play to someone that hasn’t seen the first two, but I hope that this review will encourage even just one person to seek out this magnificent series. It continues to be one of my favorite series in film and although Before Sunset remains my favorite entry, Before Midnight is a worthy continuation of the story and I urge everyone to take the time to seek out this story of love and life.