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Third time’s a charm

OUT NOW! Romantic and clever, BEFORE MIDNIGHT is another walk to remember, with only one misstep.

Shot nine years apart, Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) were essentially two perfect halves of the same film. Nine more years have passed and Linklater only narrowly misses pulling off a perfect triptych. Céline (Delpy) and Jesse (Hawke) are finally a couple and parents to twins. The film depicts a day on their holiday in the Greek Peloponnese, where Jesse has been invited on a writer’s retreat.

The only real flaw is an early lunch scene in which Céline and Jesse, another couple their age, their elderly hosts, and a couple in their early twenties (yes, couples for every generation…) discuss relationships and how they are affected by age, the passing of time and innovations such as social media. This painfully schematic, masturbatory discussion has nothing of the effortless and irresistible eloquence that so distinguished the previous films.

Thankfully, it’s an aberration and as soon as Céline and Jesse leave their insipid companions behind, Before Midnight returns to following the pair in long tracking shots as they stroll through stunning settings, talking endlessly and offering us the welcome privilege of tagging along with them for another short distance on their journey.

Before Midnight | Directed by Richard Linklater (USA 2012) with Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke. Starts June 6

Originally published in Issue #117, June 2013