Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunite as Jesse and Celine in a third decade with “Before Midnight,” now available on DVD. They first met in their twenties as strangers on a train in 1995’s “Before Sunrise.” Nine years after their one night together, they reunited as thirtysomethings in 2004’s “Before Sunset.” Now another nine years have passed and we encounter them as an early forties couple facing a potentially disastrous midlife crisis. They have saved the best for last with this must-see Oscar nominee for Adapted Screenplay co-written by the stars and returning director Richard Linklater.
“Before Midnight” gives us the most splendid setting yet as the couple and their twin daughters vacation in Greece with an author colleague of Jesse’s. The landscapes, shorelines and ancient town they walk and talk through dazzle the eyes with unparalleled beauty and make you want to immediately book a trip there. The movie retains the unique and captivating formula of building a narrative through the conversation of its two characters. However they are joined this time by a delightful group of friends and acquaintances from three generations. They share in a thought provoking and moving discussion of life and love during an amazingly life-like dinner that you never want to end.
“Before Midnight” ventures into much darker territory than the previous films but is still punctuated with humor and undeniable charm. Linklater lets his characters interact with an incredible naturalness often in unbroken one camera scenes such as when Jesse and Celine drive through the countryside with their daughters asleep in the back seat. Every moment absolutely feels like watching real life, sometimes uncomfortably so. And he achieves his crowning moment as a filmmaker with a beautiful and simple yet powerfully moving slow pull away from his final shot that tells us everything we need to know.