Before Midnight

2013

Before Midnight

Critics Consensus

Building on the first two installments in Richard Linklater's well-crafted Before trilogy, Before Midnight offers intelligent, powerfully acted perspectives on love, marriage, and long-term commitment.

97%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 196

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 37,273
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Movie Info

Before Midnight is an upcoming American romance drama film and the sequel to Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004). Like its predecessors, the film was directed by Richard Linklater. As with the previous film, Linklater shares screenplay credit with both actors from the movies, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.(c) Official FB

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Critic Reviews for Before Midnight

All Critics (196) | Top Critics (42)

Audience Reviews for Before Midnight

  • Sep 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.
    Spencer S 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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jan 22, 2014
    Embarrassing, yes, but I am WAY behind in catching up to one of 2013's best films, BEFORE MIDNIGHT. Released last May, I was lucky enough to see it last week with co-star/co-writer (and now Academy Award nominee) Julie Delpy in attendance. For those unaware, BEFORE MIDNIGHT is the 3rd film in a series about a couple (played by Delpy and Ethan Hawke) which began with BEFORE SUNRISE (1995) and continued with BEFORE SUNSET (2004). Celine and Jesse meet on a train in Austria and spend a glorious evening walking and talking around Vienna. Pledging to meet up a year later but failing to do so, the 2nd film sees them reuniting under entirely different circumstances. The latest film catches up with the pair, adding many layers to their story. Richard Linklater, who co-wrote the films with his leads, has essentially given the world his version of the Michael Apted documentary classic series which started with 7 UP. Reuniting with Celine and Jesse every 9 years feels like checking in on old friends, seeing if the blueprint of their relationship was mapped out on their very first day, or if they unexpectedly evolved. BEFORE MIDNIGHT gives us both. Believe me, these films are an acquired taste, but fans of intelligent dialogue, layered characters, and bold cinematic choices will find much to celebrate here. I won't spoil any plot points in this review, but as an ardent fan of this now-trilogy, I can say that the deeper this trio goes, the more fulfilling the results. Deceptively simple and very talky, filled with beautiful vistas and people, it would be easy to dismiss BEFORE MIDNIGHT as a boring travelogue. Set in Greece, Celine and Jesse find themselves at a crossroads leading to one epic argument. After a beautiful prologue at an airport, in which we are shown an unexpected person who tugs at Jesse's heart, Linklater and co. give us a remarkable 14 minute single take scene of Celine and Jesse talking in a car. The breadth of their conversation, the narrative arc within the scene, the highly engaging acting left me stunned. Yes, we experience the beauty of Greece, much like we saw Vienna and Paris in the previous installments, and yes, things grow more and more contained as the story moves along, but despite these schematics, our three filmmakers have wisely chosen to peel back the onion to reveal real pain and hurt feelings. Delpy and Hawke are so strong, I believed every moment. Delpy manages the tricky task of bridging the gap between rage and deep affection, while Hawke's character must recognize that being the voice of reason doesn't always make him right. Looking at Hawke, it's easy to dismiss him as an aging surfer dude, but I love how intelligent they've written his author character. Delpy, for her part, eschews all vanity and really lets us see the literal and figurative naked self. These are blazing, fully alive performances. Like its predecessors, BEFORE MIDNIGHT ends on yet another sublime moment. As the camera pulls back on a scene, I cried, knowing I may not see them again until 2021. Celine and Jesse will be missed. Their accomplishments have been grossly overlooked, but I'm thrilled they're finally being recognized as screenwriters. Their process surprised me. I figured Delpy and Hawke would improvise in front of Linklater, who would take all the notes. Instead, Delpy told us that all three wrote everything and not just their own parts. The film, in fact, was not improvised at all, sticking to every word, "down to every comma", said Delpy. At the screening, one audience member asked Delpy why her character had to be so angry and bitter when Hawke's character is the perfect guy. Without missing a beat, Delpy responded, "I think you've seen too many Jennifer Aniston movies." She made me a fan for life.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer
  • Jan 05, 2014
    "Drums beating, cold English blood runs hot, lady of the house wondrin' where it's gonna stop; house boy knows that he's doin' alright; you should a heard him just [u]before[/u] midnight!" Actually, let me retract that reference, because I don't think Mick Jagger would spend this much time talking to a French chick before he got what he needed and bailed, and he doesn't even look like Ethan Hawke. Right quick, I like these films and all, but seriously, how did they end up making a trilogy out of this? It's not like the day-long misadventures that Hawke has been through in this series are as intensely eventful as the one day Hawke shared with Denzel Washington. It's amazing how it's been eighteen years, and someone is just now getting around to associating these films that star Ethan Hawke and span about a day, at the longest, to "Training Day", probably because all of the black people who play a big role in the cult following behind "Training Day" aren't seeing these films, and the white people who play... the only role in the cult following behind the "Before" trilogy forgot that Hawke was in "Training Day" when they gave Washington all of his praise for being black. You can call racism all you want, you brainwashed drones of liberal media (Hey, Washington is awesome in "Training Day", but Russell Crowe raised quite the standard in "A Beautiful Mind", the Oscar bait of 2001), but an independent drama about people just talking for a little over an hour-and-a-half sounds like it would be right up the alley of the super-white, super-liberal art snobs. I've been joking about how pretentious-sounding these films' titles have been since (Insert a broad-chested, nasally breathy dialect, with a hint of a guffaw, here) "Before Sunrise", and they're still about as entertaining as they can be with their natural shortcomings, as well as common consequential shortcomings that can even be found here. Well, "Before Sunset" only got uneven, and even then, it only hit inconsistencies when the film got so carried away with realistic dialogue that conversations swiftly shifted topics, whereas with this film, plot, while still thin, has several distinct segments that storytelling jars between, due to its sticking with each segment for way too long. This series has always been draggy, and it always should have been a little bit, as it has always just about walking and talking, yet every one of these installments, including this one, still gets a little too repetitious for its own good, even in the context of an intentionally limp plot. Richard Linklater's, Julie Delpy's and Ethan Hawke's script is as well-done as any of these films' screenplays, and such sharpness compensates for questionable structuring enough to bring this particular effort deepest into the brink of rewarding, yet whether it be because of the focal unevenness or simply because dragging is, in fact, worse than ever, this film feels like the most overdrawn "Before" installment yet, and that makes it even easier to detect natural shortcomings that, to be fair, were always going to be just about impossible to deny. There's a little bit more going on in this plot concept, and the additional meat, however limited, challenges the emphases on natural shortcomings enough for the final product to reach the border of rewarding that the predecessors couldn't quite see, but at the end of the day, this story concept is still generally not much more than people simply interacting, so if there is a narrative, then it's minimalist something fierce, with only so much dynamicity and conflict, no matter how much Linklater tries to throw a little meat onto this drama's bones. A hint of charming ambition has been prominent throughout every one of these installments, and with more ambition comes more inspiration to drive this effort a little bit further than either of its predecessors, but at the same time, the sheer sense of passion that Linklater pumps into most every scene in this film results in some particularly questionable ideas for unconventional storytelling that thin out a potentially particularly meaty story concept. If nothing else, Linklater's palpable heart makes it even easier to feel out the places in which this film does not meet Linklater's expectations, and while this film is a little bit better than I expected, given that its predecessors have been decent, but underwhelming, particularly uneven focus and pacing behind a still relatively thin story concept result in yet another relatively underwhelming drama. That being said, for every near-great shortcoming, there is a strength that, while maybe not great, endears considerably, at least aesthetically. Graham Reynolds' score is underused, just as the soundtracks of both predecessors have been underused, but musicality is utilized more than ever this time around, with a tastefully tender, modern classical heart that captures the tasteful tone of this film about as much as Christos Voudouris' cinematography, which is not as gorgeously emphatic on sparse lighting as Lee Daniel's cinematography was in "Before Sunset", but is still well-defined in its beautifully capturing scenery that is beautiful enough on its own. This particular European adventure with Jesse and Céline is as celebratory as ever of its environment, which is as beautiful as ever, with a vibrant Greek landscape that is richly diverse, but consistent in its gorgeousness. Stylistic tastefulness and immersive scenery played pretty big roles in making the predecessors so endearing, so it makes sense that this film is partly so much better than its predecessors because it is even more stylistically tasteful and even more immersive with its focus on a gorgeous setting, offering the aesthetic some worthy treats to help win you over, and not without the help of a solid cast. yet I was also impressed with how much more they play up the supporting cast, albeit for only a little while, but enough to expand on the onslaught of startlingly charming charisma and chemistry that Hawke and Delpy establish pretty firmly on their own, and even get a greater feel for the dynamic human depths of this dramatic saga. Whether it be the humblingly elder Xenia Kalogeropoulou and Walter Lassally, or the charmingly middle-aged Panos Koronis and the Athina Rachel Tsangari, or the beautiful and young Yiannis Papadopoulos and Ariane Labed (Hotter Marion Cotillard is all that needs to be said about Labed, who I am most certainly hoping to see more of), most everyone in the supporting cast, for the limited time they're present, mark reflections in the maturing process of a relationship and the changes in the interpretation of a relationship throughout the generations that have made up the primary thematic core of this entire saga, so the supporting cast adds a good deal to this drama's depth, on top of being thoroughly charismatic, with dynamite chemistry, and is therefore instrumental in making this film even more endearing than its predecessors. Written by Hawke and Delpy, as well as Richard Linklater, this film's script seems more draggy and is decidedly more uneven than the predecessors' scripts, with some forced exposition and even the occasional convention, but it's still one of the better scripts of 2013, and possibly the best script in the "Before" trilogy, offering intelligent subject matter and sharper humor within dialogue to sustain entertainment value through the dragging, sometimes broken by drops of compellingly genuine conflict that Linklater enriches with thoughtful directorial storytelling. Finding glimpses of the rewarding film that I've wanted out of this series since it began makes me really wish that this film could have been more consistent in its focus, pacing and overall impact, but those glimpses are still plentiful enough to bring the final product to the brink of rewarding, and while that's not close enough to make a strong drama, fine style, wit and charm, as well as some emotional bite, make the final product the relative best in the "Before" saga. Overall, inconsistencies in focus are greater than ever, and inconsistencies in pacing are as great as they've even been in this series, while natural shortcomings to a thin, talkative narrative concept, backed by a sense of overambition, secure the final product as underwhelming, but tasteful score work and cinematography, stunningly immersive settings, strong performances and chemistry, and a sharp, relatively well-layered script prove to be enough to make "Before Midnight" a worthy, borderline rewarding return to a classic modern love story, in spite of the limitations that have always been there. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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