“Before Midnight” is the culmination of Linklater’s trilogy about a relationship

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In what feels like a feature-length version of Michael Apted’s “Up” series, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy has managed to create a cinematic evolution of a relationship between two people from different part of the world with the “Before” trilogy.

In 1995’s “Before Sunrise,” two young travelers Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) spend a night in Vienna conversing and falling in love with each other before going their separate ways. They reunited in Paris where they reignited the spark that was first lit nine years earlier in 2004’s “Before Midnight.”

In “Before Midnight,” Jesse and Celine are in their 40s, unmarried and the parents of twin daughters. While vacationing in Greece, the couple find a chance to be spend some alone time together, concluding the day with a night at a luxurious hotel. The seams of their relationship are put in a strain when Jesse tells Celine that he would like to move to Chicago in order to spend time with his young son (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) to his ex-wife. Celine rejects the idea because it would mean that she would have to refuse a job offer that she desires.

Like “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset,” “Before Midnight” is all about the dialogue and the conversations between Jesse and Celine whether it is have frank conversation with friends or walking through the Greek ruins while reminiscing about the past. However, unlike the last two films, “Before Midnight” doesn’t promise a happy ending as hurtful comments and words are thrown at each other as they bicker within the confines of the hotel room they are staying at. Seeing a couple like this that have grown to love each other in front of our eyes throughout two movies teeter on the brink of destruction makes “Before Midnight” feel like an emotional rollercoaster.

Hawke and Delpy deliver pitch-perfect performances as Jesse and Celine as they manage to keep the same kind of rapport that they had in their previous movies. As co-writers for “Before Midnight” with Linklater, Hawke and Delpy have also composed a script that is filled with great dialogue that feels so natural when spoken, but also carries some wit and emotional weight when the time calls for it. Linklater continues to shoot his dialogue-centric scenes in extensive, perpetual takes that go hand-in-hand with the dialogue, allowing Hawke and Delpy to react naturally to each other and possibly allowing a little room for improvisation between the actors.

“Before Midnight” is the culmination of a near-perfect trilogy about love and relationships. As in the previous films, this film features a fantastic screenplay and great performances from Hawke and Delpy as they deliver the performances of their careers.

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