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In this stale era of supersized superhero franchises, it’s delightfully refreshing to reunite with Richard Linklater’s characters from Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Almost 20 yearson from the first installment, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) feel like old friends; we’re intimately invested in their relationship. But has the magic of their first, serendipitous meeting in Vienna lasted the test of time?
Nine years after their Parisian assignation, we meet the pair in picturesque Crete, where Jesse is enjoying his summer as a writer in residence. I won’t spoil the family dynamic, but Linklater does a clever job of bringing everyone up to speed in a single-take car ride back from the airport. These long, dialogue-filled takes continue as their idyllic holiday unfolds into a romantic getaway organised by friends, where suddenly Jesse and Celine are confronted by passion of a more destructive kind.
As cowriters and actors, Hawk and Delpy know just how to get under your skin. Their onscreen alter egos fit like a glove, and witnessing their ageing, nagging, toying love is a true privilege. Before Midnight may mean to cap off the trilogy, but you won’t want to bid Jesse and Celine adieu.