Before Midnight - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Before Midnight Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ September 10, 2014
This is the most depressing, and definitely most realistic portrayal of romance, of the Linklater trilogy. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke return as Celine and Jesse, now married with twins, living in Europe and enjoying a family vacation with friends. While the first two films were romantic because of what could be, this one is romantic for what they are, who they've become, and what's in store for them. Addressing the problems of the last film, Jesse worries about the distance between him and his son, about how much his ex-wife loathes him, and his own shortcomings as a father and a writer. Celine works constantly and worries about their life in Europe and how they adjusted to their marital woes. They argue, bicker, and yet love each other unequivocally, showing the audience that yes things get rough, and sometimes you want to quit, but in the end love is malleable and never-ending in its simplicity. This is by far the most beautiful of the three films and the best written of the three as well.
Super Reviewer
May 27, 2014
Jesse and Celine's marriage encounters hardship as they attempt to manage life together years after their first meeting.
It seems that the "Before" films are the only Richard Linklater films that I enjoy. Linklater's penchant for dividing people into two distinct groups, rebels and sell-outs, wanes when he focuses on Jesse and Celine, and the characters have more depth, more intellectual spark, more remarkable conflicts than any of Linklater's other characters. Their conflicts are remarkably real, and the reflections on life and relationships more poignant than most of what we see in modern romances. The plot - and there is a plot to these films - builds organically, borne out of reasonable assertions by both characters; no one is demonized in these films even if there is conflict. The film's climax is touching, heartfelt, and moving.
The film's drawback is similar to its strengths. After all, we're so used to quick cuts, shallow multiplots, and scenes that get in, get out, and leave nothing fully explored that it takes a long period of adjustment before we can fully appreciated what Linklater does with these characters.
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have the type of chemistry that is rarely captured on film, but I suppose that acting these parts for almost twenty years has its advantages.
Overall, Before Midnight might be the strongest film of the "Before" trilogy, but it's hard to make that determination as each is precious in itself.
Super Reviewer
June 10, 2013
Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke portray a couple so well that at times I felt as if I were intruding as they navigate/negotiate both their present day lives as well as their futures in Richard Linklater's sublime paean to modern yah-but-we're-educated, not-like-our-dumb-parents love. Pretentious and self aware throughout, while essentially only 5 or 6 beautiful conversations, inter personal/political maneuverings, and yet ... therein the sparkle.
I dare you to watch this and not think at least once that you've had their very conversation, with exactly the same emotion, and the same guile.
My only problem with this was the desire to see the American speak at least a little French f'cryinoutloud.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2013
At first it may have seemed like an unnecessary film, but as soon as I started watching it all made sense. A winner.
Super Reviewer
½ March 3, 2013
Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy once again deliver the goods with this, the third entry into the saga of the relationship of lovers Jesse and Celine.

Set 9 yeas after Before Sunset, and 18 years after their first encounter in Before Sunrise, this film picks up with Jesse and Celine near the end of a summer trip to Greece. They've been married for a number of years, and have twin daughters. When the film starts, Jesse is escorting his son (from a previous relationship) to the airport so he can fly back to the States to be with his mom. From there, the film follows the couple as they try to finally get some needed alone time with one another. What should be passionate instead turns into an intense examination of the couple's past present and future.

There are several moments of levity, but this is by and large the most dramatic and dark film of this series. It's also the most mature, but I think that is to be expected. I really enjoyed it, but, unlike a lot of people, I think this is either on par with part 2, if not just slightly below that. I loved how this is a series that takes relationships seriously, but I think this one is a bit of a tough watch because it covers the uncomfortable yet inevitable aspects of long term love, and does so with frightening realism.

These characters are fully realized, and the actors (like they did with the second film) co-wrote the script with director Linklater, giving us some detailed people who we and especially they have come to know and execute so well, that at times, it feels as if this is a documentary as opposed to fiction.

Even though I hated seeing these characters go through rough patches, the film ends on a pretty satisfactory note, though I feel like maybe the film was a tad too meandering at times. It certainly looks gorgeous though, and the acting is likewise brilliant, so most complaints I have are my own (for the most part).

Again, I applaud the film for being real, but it sometimes feels a bit too real, and a tad overly serious. Aside from that though, this, along with the two previous films, prove to be basically the best romance films of the past 20 years.
Super Reviewer
½ November 6, 2013
Yet another excellent addition to the 'Before' series concerning Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), now married and living in Greece, with two kids and seemingly happy, but both sensing some uneasiness in their marriage and realizing their youth is disappearing. The ultimate exercise in mumblecore goes through another run, and this one is definitely the least breezy of the three movies. The acting is unsurprisingly outstanding, with Hawke and Delpy matching each other yard for yard and effortlessly switching between subjects concerning philosophy, their family, and their lives going forward. The last 1/3 of the movie is very unlike what has happened in the series, and as a result it feels like a breath of fresh air. Definitely one of the finest movies of 2013, and worthy of repeated viewings.
Super Reviewer
October 12, 2013
"Before Midnight" expertly continues the series' tradition of exploring the collision of emotion and time with authentic humor and sadness. The balancing act between optimism and pessimism that is always Linklater's greatest skill is in full effect here. I still find "Before Sunrise" to be the undefeated gold standard (I consider it perhaps the closest thing I know to a perfect film), but this movie really hammers home the idea that no matter where a relationship goes, just attempting to live with someone else by your side can be beautiful in its own right.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2013
Throw everything you know about love out the window. When you watch "Before Midnight" which caps off this "Before" trilogy, you will go through an emotional transformation like no other. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy pen the script once again with director Richhard Linklater, and do not think I am over-selling this film by calling it a modern day masterpiece, because that is exactly what it is. Shot more beautifully than the first two films, the final instalment in this trilogy is a work of picture perfect art that is not just one of the best films of 2013, but one of the best romance films I have ever seen, along with the first. "Before Sunset" kind of takes you in a direction and leaves you with a bunch of questions, which is why it is my least favourite, but as a continuous story, this is a PERFECT trilogy of films. Emotionally fulfilling and romantically enchanting, "Before Midnight" revitalizes romance films and promises you that there is more out there in film that Hollywood fluff.
Super Reviewer
½ August 19, 2013
Romance Meets Reality.

Great Film! Before Midnight is a different type of animal this time around. I didn't expect the team could top an already beautiful story but what they achieve in the newest installment is the most accurate and authentic portrayals of love since Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). The film is an absolute marvel, showcasing the very best dialogue and capturing the sheer essence of acting brilliance from stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Director Richard Linklater has also created the crowning work of his directorial career, showing incredible restraint and focus on two characters that still feel just as new and fresh as the day we met them. The film opens with a near fifteen minute take that gets its hook into you and never lets up. It's a cinematic sensation. The film is breathtakingly accurate and precise in capturing the love and relationship of couples, it will and should be studied by film schools and writers for years to come. Linklater bares his soul, frame after frame, showing confidence of his own idiosyncratic vision of this story and being as accessible to even the youngest of people. Go see this!

We meet Jesse and Celine nine years on in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on that train bound for Vienna.
Super Reviewer
½ July 28, 2013
Having reached a certain age, the lovers Jesse and Celine are caught amidst life defining decisions that will affect the course of their seemingly idyllic and understandable relationship. A bittersweet exposition of the hopes and fears of two smart and sensitive people struggling to maintain their close and soulful connection despite the urgencies of age, parenthood, and commitment. Like the first two, the trio Linklater-Delpy-Hawke achieved an equally impressive film. Passionately performed and written, this gem involves, provokes and confronts human issues in a haunting but also captivating and often funny way.
Super Reviewer
July 27, 2013
Started off so slowly I really thought I would not enjoy this film, but it does improve once they go to the hotel. Kind of.
Certainly to enjoy it, I had to put the other two films behind me. This is not the romantic Celine and Jesse of the previous two films. This is middle aged Celine and Jesse bogged down by parenthood and implied infidelity.
I liked it as it really rang true of a married couple who have perhaps been together too long and starting to grate. Cruel things are said and a lot of its quite harsh, but the ending still had some hope.
Good movie, but a depressing final instalment. Realistic yes, romantic, not particularly.
Super Reviewer
July 16, 2013
"Before Midnight" is the 3rd movie in the "Before" series("Before Sunset" and "Before Sunrise"). It follows the same formula that has made the other 2 just amazing movies. It's one day in the lives of Jesse(Ethan Hawke) and Celine(Julie Delpy). It picks up nine years after "Sunset" when they are on vacation in Greece. They are still together with twin daughters , and Jesse wants to move back to the U.S. to be closer to his son from a previous marriage. From there the movie is those two walking and talking trying to rekindle their romance, and ultimately things come to a head as the emotions that bubble under the surface rise up. There is a lot of arguing in this movie and at first you are like "nooo!", but by the end you realize that this is a very realistic look at their relationship. This is exactly how couples are, and exactly how these two would be spending their lives with each other. It's a fantastic movie than fans of the previous films will love. Hawke and Delpy have the best chemistry I've ever seen in a series of romantic type movies(although this isn't a very romantic movie). I love how each movie is separated by 9 years. It really helps this franchise stand apart and be something truly unique in a sea of movies that are exactly the same. I sincerely hope in 9 years we get a fourth movie, because I cannot wait to see where these two go next. Great third installment, of a great series of films. Check all three of them out if you haven't.
Super Reviewer
½ June 30, 2013
The third installment of this romantic trilogy differs greatly from the first two, and it is for the best. This one is no fairytale, it is far more dramatic as the two characters are hit in the face with reality. Delpy and Hawke really knock it out of the park, even more so than they did in the first two films. Other characters are introduced, tensions are high, and it makes for a really good end to this ultra-realistic love story.
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2013
My immediate 5-star reception has calmed down a bit, but I still think it's the strongest of the three. I wasn't in love with the first two installations - the first for its veneer of pretention, the second for its sequelly "must resolve conflicts" feel - but "Before Midnight" combines the talky whimsy of the first with the concrete problems of the second, while adding in the claustrophobic ache of an impending black hole.

The setting of Greece is sumptuous, and the supporting characters are charming, especially sun-kissed, curly-haired Ariane Labed. I love how she holds and hides her face with her hands. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are chemistry personified. It's a wonder that they haven't actually been cohabiting partners, raising twin girls in France for the past ten years. Their half-hour conversations are funny and sad and meandering and layered. The opening sequence in the car and the walk to the hotel feel mundane yet natural and magnetic.


The climactic fight is sickening to watch (in a good way); it's nearly ALL RISE with a small oasis of reconciliation that I found identifiably realistic. At first I felt indignant at how crazy and irrational Celine was being, but then I realized that I usually take Jesse's logical-moral-high-ground stance in domestic squabbles, which I take as right, but does come off as cold and sanctimonious. The root of Celine's "craziness" and "irrationality" is revealed in a blissfully unapologetic admission of maternal anxiety, and while that theme isn't new, Celine sticks to her guns so extremely that it seems new - or at least new to the couple who have probably had versions of this fight many times before.

The time traveler ending is silly but sooo Jesse - an affect that the wizened dad probably forsook in these two decades since Vienna. There's no guarantee that they'll work it out, but OH that last line: "It must have been a great night we're about to have." SOOO GOOD!
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ June 24, 2013
If you're a fan of writer/director Richard Linklater's previous movies (Before Sunrise and Before Sunset), as I am, then a new Before movie is a cause of celebration. It feels like we're checking in with old friends. It's fascinating to take stock of these characters and their new points in their lives, now approaching middle age. This series is becoming the dramatic equivalent to the 7 Up documentary series that periodically checks up on its subjects every seven years in their lives (56 Up came out this year). Individually, the films are wonderful, but when taken as a whole, the series becomes something truly special, something indelible and sweeping and transporting. Before Midnight is a wonderful movie, brimming with heart as well as ache. It's also one of the best movies you'll see this year and another touchstone to the impressive legacy of the series.

In 1995, 23-year-olds Jessie (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) met on a train and spent a magical day strolling through Vienna and essentially falling in love. In 2004, Jessie was touring Paris on his book tour, having turned the events of that Vienna night into a successful novel. Celine meets him and the two pal around, reconnecting, with Celine revealing how much that night meant to her as well. Now, in 2013, Jessie and Celine are together, though unmarried, and have twin seven-year-old daughters, Ella and Nina. They've been vacationing in Greece for a month while Jessie works on a new novel. Over the course of one long day, the couple will try and stir old passions and question whether they still share the same commitments.

We're watching the evolution of two human beings, and your response will vary depending upon your own life's stopping point at the time of viewing. I must say, as a man now in his early thirties, that I enjoyed Sunrise and Sunset even more, finding greater thematic resonance to the characters, their anxieties, and the concern about faking your way through the "adult world." I imagine I will find these movies even more emotionally engaging as I continue to age and cross similar hurdles as the characters do. For fans of the series, we've already invested 20 years and four hours of screen time with these characters. There's more at stake when they fight. Watching the other movies beforehand, which I heartily recommend for multiple reasons, also provides stirring points of contrast, the romanticism of youth, the exuberance of promise. What Before Midnight does, and does so exceptionally, is take the romance of the earlier films and put it to the test. There's a lovely dinner scene with several couples, and you realize that each one is an analogue for Jessie and Celine: the teenagers, the middle-aged couple starting out, the older couple discussing the demise of their previous spouses. It's hard not to contrast the different stops and the different realities of love by the age.

Fair warning, Before Midnight is the least romantic of all three movies (I want a new movie every 9 years or so until the last one is essentially Amour). The first movie was them connecting. The second movie was about them reconnecting. The third movie establishes that they've been together for nine years and have a pair of twin daughters. The focus of Midnight is the struggle of maintaining a long-term relationship, something rarely given such thoughtful, perceptive, and compassionate depth on screen. We'd all rather watch lovebirds make goo-goo eyes at one another while we swoon appropriately, but Midnight's many battles, small and large, new and ongoing, explore a relationship reality that many should find alarmingly relatable. While the particulars may be different, you may be surprised at how similar these conflicts can be. Exclude stuff like vacationing in Greece, the cushy jobs, and look to the mounting difficulty to retain that spark, a reminder of why you fell in love long ago, with the responsibilities of parenting and work stretching you in different directions. Routine can quickly transform into malaise. Jessie has a teenage son from a previous relationship, and this pushes him into great remorse when the kid departs, making him feel inadequate as a parent, which leads him to suggest unlikely relocation scenarios. Celine, being something of a worst-case scenario creature, notes the moment, saying this is when couples start falling apart. She's worried he'll resent her for choosing against a cross-country move. However, as the movie progresses, you realize there are already enough long-simmering resentments between the couple. This is a hard movie to watch at times because Jessie and Celine both go for broke when they argue, and it can get ugly (he dismisses her feelings as "crazy"; she vents about his lack of virility). Ending on a moment of ambiguity, like the other films, it's perfectly reasonable to assume you just watched a two-hour breakup movie. Their problems don't really seem resolved but I guess we'll see in nine years, won't we? Hopefully the next one isn't called Before Divorce.

The hallmark of the series, its sparkling conversation, is alive and well, with added maturity and reflection. When you get dialogue this good, this fluidly natural, this engaging, I could listen to them talk for days. In my mini-review for Before Sunset I compared it to listening to birds sing. The shots can last upwards of ten minutes as the camera just slowly walks ahead of Hawke and Delpy as they converse. In the first film we got a foot-tour of Vienna, the second Paris, and now Greece. The sights, while nice, are incidental because I was consumed with the dialogue, which spills so effortlessly from Hawke and Delpy, relishing playing these characters once more. Their give-and-take is often breathless, with nary a pause between them, and it can become overpowering for the uninitiated (lots of old ladies, I have found, dislike this movie, though when asked, none have seen the previous two). But there's such added dramatic subtext now that we've jumped ahead in time. Rather than yearn for the characters to get together, now we're assembling what we can of their history together and the durable conflicts. The exposition never feels forced, and each new bit provides another prism to view the character actions. You're studying the characters, parsing their words, sizing up their honesty, and analyzing the various tests and dodges they dole out to one another. It's a more active experience than you might expect for watching people talk a lot.

Hawke (The Purge) and Delpy (2 Days in New York) are so exquisitely natural with these characters and together and never better. They know these people inside out, and they should because both are credited yet again as co-screenwriters with Linklater. I'd expect another Oscar nomination in their future, much like Before Sunset. Delpy has a wonderful faux youthful voice she uses for hilarious disdain to narrate Jessie's female fans. Both actors go a long way to flesh out their characters, provide degrees of new wisdom and worry while making us care about their problems. One character does not have the moral high ground, which makes their arguments all the more challenging to process. I don't want to make it sound like Before Midnight is some twenty-first century Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? There are innumerous moments of humor and grace and compassion, but the louder ringing of the raging conflicts can swallow them up. I also found it intriguing that this is the first movie in the series with nudity from our couple. Granted, it would seem somewhat forward if it happened in Sunrise and Sunset considering the narrow timeframes. As presented in Midnight, it loses erotic context and becomes another indicator of the struggles of maintaining passion.

I want to reiterate that I really hope that Linklater and his stars continue to bless us with a new film every decade, checking back on the lives of Jessie and Celine. The next one, if we continue the nine-year tradition, will deal with them turning fifty, which seems like a grand opportunity for some existential ennui. Also, Jessie son from a previous marriage will be roughly the same age Jessie was in 1995's Before Sunrise. That could provide another interesting perspective for dad. I'm just not ready to say goodbye to these characters yet. Much like the 7 Up documentary series, the movies provide a point to reflect on our own lives, how we've changed and grown, the setbacks and triumphs, surprises and sadness. Catching up with the series, I viewed the movies very differently than I did when I first watched them. The art remains the same but the frame changes; we change. The glorious aspect of Linklater's series is that we get to chart that change, checking back with old friends we've grown with. The movie's attention to character and the relatable problems of middle age and long-term relationships is rich, nuanced, and just about everything This is 40 should have been and wasn't. Before Midnight may lack the idealistic romanticism of previous entries but it substitutes a soulfulness to a series that has always been mature beyond its years. Approaching half a life lived, the characters still have plenty of life in them, plenty of dreams worth pursuing, and plenty more hurdles to go. It has been an ongoing privilege to get to spend time with these two. I pray this is not the end but just another stop on what ends up being one of cinema's definitive statements on love through the ages.

Nate's Grade: A
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2013
It's still as entertaining, engrossing and smart as its predecessors, but ''Before Sunrise'' and ''Before Sunset'' were nowhere near as emotionally resonate as the latest in the series. ''Before Midnight'', with the help of a masterful script and outstanding performances from Hawke and Delpy, is the most honest a romance could be about age, relationships and parenthood, making for the best film I've seen so far in 2013.
Super Reviewer
June 21, 2013
The best film about love and relationships I've ever seen.
Super Reviewer
½ June 19, 2013
In their third feature film in 18 years, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delphy) continue to discuss their relationship, now as middle-aged parents vacationing in Greece. The movie is like sitting down with a smart, classy couple for cocktail conversation, then spying on them as they go back to their hotel room and fight. If you like actors' showcases and relationship talk sprinkled with references to myth and philosophy, have I got the film for you!
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2013
It is immensely refreshing to meet again these two characters who we once (twice) learned to love, in a story that examines with the uttermost honesty the natural conflicts of married life, which are also present for this couple who seemed so suited for a happy ending together.
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2013
Before Midnight is a masterpiece. Plain and simple. It's the best film of this or any recent year, and it's also undoubtedly one of the most perceptive and insightful portrayals of middle age anxieties that I have seen in a very long time.
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their roles as Jessie and Celine respectively. The budding romance of these two characters in Before Sunrise was a wonderfully unique tribute to young love. Nine years later, their brief real time conversation in Before Sunset reflected their fears and insecurities as they matured into adulthood. Now, in Before Midnight, with a family (or families) of their own, Jessie and Celine are still unsure about each other or about their aspirations for life.
Before Midnight is by far the funniest of the three films, but it is also the least optimistic. As the decades have passed, Jessie and Celine have grown older, but they are not that different from the twenty year old versions of themselves who met on that train in Vienna. Nevertheless, this is a beautifully written, directed, and acted stroke of film brilliance that adds that much more depth to this wonderful franchise.
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