The third installment in the Jesse and Celine trilogy is a frank look at the pitfalls of long-term romantic commitment, a very loose retelling of Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy (with a dash of Contempt), and a meditation on the continuity (or lack thereof) of identity: how much can two people change before they break completely with their past selves? Before Midnight finds Jesse and Celine at the tail end of a summer in Greece, and the new location brings with it a shift in perspective. In one long passage, the pair contribute to a dinner party turned modern-day Greek symposium in which they’re placed in a chronological lineup of couples young and old. From then on, it’s their show: we see them reminisce, crack jokes, pick at each other’s sore spots, engage in some ungainly foreplay (with little of the previous films’ chaste discretion), and finally erupt into full-scale conflict. The result is a miracle of a movie, equally wistful and unsentimental, blunt and tender, allusive and plainspoken. Midnight ends on a touching grace note that brings the series satisfyingly full circle.

  • Directed By Richard Linklater
  • 2013
  • USA
  • DCP
  • 109 minutes