Director Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunite for this much anticipated follow-up to Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004).
This third instalment is set nine years after the last film, Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) are now living together in Paris with their two daughters but life is far from perfect.
Celine is considering a job in Government, something she’d previously refused to contemplate.
Meanwhile Jesse is struggling to maintain his relationship with Hank, his son from his previous marriage and is pondering moving his new family back to the States to give his son a positive male role model.
From this starting Linklater and his two leads – the three wrote the screenplay together – weave a story of emotional frustration driven by competing career demands and Jesse’s desire to be a good parent to all his kids.
Linklater repeatedly spoils the audience with indulgently long, single-take scenes in which little visual happens in order to create space for rich, immersive dialogue which at times feels completely off the cuff and improvised.
It’s tempting to believe the actors leads are winging it, following only the general direction of the script, dancing around to get to the next plot point.
The story unfolds at a graceful, unforced pace before reaching a conclusion which will have you reaching for your hankies.
Fans of the previous two films will love Before Midnight which is a carefully crafted, luxury of a film made to wallow in but the story is sufficiently open and self-explanatory that no prior knowledge is necessary to enjoy it.
In cinemas June 21st.