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94

Universal acclaim - based on 41 Critics What's this?

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8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 294 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 41
  2. Negative: 0 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jun 23, 2013
    100
    The latest in the wonderful "Before" series does three important things: It breaks out of the courtship formula, yet retains the series' quality, and it moves the lives of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) forward in ways that are satisfying and believable. True, a romance you once envied might now be a relationship you'd not want to be in, but as long as Celine and Jesse are still talking, there's hope.
  2. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    May 23, 2013
    100
    Making a movie this warm, funny, and rigorously truthful about lovers trying to remain partners is even harder.
  3. Reviewed by: William Goss
    Feb 26, 2013
    100
    Before Midnight manages to be an emotionally astute and tremendously enjoyable conclusion to this rather improbable trilogy.
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jun 6, 2013
    100
    If the first two films belong with the greatest (if talkiest) movie romances of all time, the new film is richer, riskier, and more bleakly perceptive about what it takes for love to endure (or not) over the long haul.
  5. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    May 23, 2013
    90
    Delpy and Hawke have never been more persuasive. Nor has the series.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    May 23, 2013
    88
    Bittersweet, intelligently written, deftly acted and painfully honest.
  7. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    Jun 21, 2013
    60
    Luckily, Hawke and Delpy remain as charming as ever, and their combined goofiness is more endearing than annoying. Winning, too, is the sense that this peculiar project, though imperfect, could grow old with its audience and its cast.

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 43 out of 57
  2. Negative: 11 out of 57
  1. Sep 10, 2013
    10
    Starting with Before Sunrise in 1995, the Before Trilogy has been the perfect anti blockbuster saga that depicts the lives of two people who just happen to find each other sitting on a train heading to Vienna. What follows that initial meeting is nothing short of magical. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and his wife Celeste (Julie Delpy) and their twin girls are vacationing at a writers retreat in Greece and for their last night they have been treated to a night exploring a small Greek town together, one that highlights each of their insecurities, hopes, dreams and inner most thoughts, thoughts that could bring this epic romance to an end. Before Midnight seems like an apt conclusion to this revelatory series as it is not only the best of the bunch but it's surely one of the best films of the year. The film doesn't shy away from the fears and relationship problems that hit people in their forties as they re-examine their lives. Midnight is the darkest of the three films but that only adds to the experience as the film exhibits a wealth of emotion established over three days of these peoples lives. A cracking romp, it's funny, intelligent and never once leaves you questioning what time it is. Even for someone unclear of Jesse and Celeste's history, Before Midnight is a detailed and personal film written by people who love these characters and want as many other people to do so too. The main reason its works as a film is because it involves you in a persons life that almost everyone can relate to in some way or another as Jesse comments on social dynamics and Celeste complains about the vulgarity of men you can associate with them in a way few films manage. As the film draws to a close the film leads into an anti-establishment climax as these characters shift and respond to things in a beautiful and painfully real way. While everything comes crashing down for these two you might see something you didn't want to see in yourself or you might glance upon the films ending and feel a glimmer of hope for these two and maybe by extension yourself. Expand
  2. Jun 14, 2013
    10
    Before Midnight is, of course, the third (and not necessarily final) film in Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy's winsome, organic, intimate series that follows the stories of lovers Jesse and Celine. The film picks up nine years after the ambiguous ending of Before Sunset and well, you're not interested in the plot. Jesse and Celine are together, of course, because how could the film exist otherwise?

    And what, really, can I say? Was there any doubt that I would gush about this film before I even set eyes on its beautiful opening shot: a throwaway close-up of Ethan Hawke's Jesse and his son, Hank's, shoes? Call me a biased reviewer. Maybe I'm doing it wrong by allowing this film to be the third act of a singular, indivisible story. The truth is, it was going to take a disaster of tremendous proportions for me to not love this film. I can say with absolute certainty that such was not the case. As far as judgment rendered goes, there's a pretty simple rubric. Have you seen the first two films? If not, go see them now. There is absolutely zero reason to watch Midnight out of context, even if it does stand strong as an independent entity. Now, did you love the first two films? If not, you should probably kill yourself with robotic haste, so bleak is the world you must inhabit. If you've seen both Sunrise and Sunset and are still breathing, you will see this film. You will almost assuredly love it. Few things in the world are so simple and so certain.

    Instead, I'll waste everyone's time by drawing some fairly moot and humble and utterly small comparisons between the three films.

    Sunrise is the most unapologetically romantic film of the series, as is to be expected. Midnight ranks a close second, however, due to a level of passion and tenacity that was understated in Sunset. Where Sunrise basks in the warm afterglow of the fading day and the comfortable fabric of young love, and where Sunset is more about two individuals coming to terms with their own lives in relation to each other, Midnight is about the sundering chaos of a binary star system, two supergiants pulling and pushing on each other, bound in an endless dance of growth, destruction, and renewal. Midnight is by far the most intense of the three films; Sunrise is warm, Sunset is cool, and Midnight spans the daring gamut from lukewarm comfort into a nuclear firestorm. Sunrise is all about possibility, where these two people might ever go. Sunset is about evaluation, the strange and complicated states they're suspended in. Midnight is about both the past and the future, looking to both with remorse and hopefulness, and not with the intellectual and emotional curiosity of Sunset but with pinned resignation and patience and pity and an entirely different kind of hope.

    Before Midnight is a powerful film. In comparison (and by no means diminishing the potency of the other two films),Sunrise is a carefree frolic through the grass, Sunset is a careful dance of courtship between two experienced partners, and Midnight is a bare knuckle brawl of devastating emotional honesty that is only possible between two people who have known each other for so many years and therefore possess the arsenal to really hurt both their partners and themselves. It is the biggest film of the three in scope; it introduces what may almost amount to a supporting cast, and in the first act, I almost feared that the focus of the film had unraveled a bit. But by the halfway point, we have returned to the relationship at the core of this (so far) trilogy. But it also spans the largest portion of the emotional gamut; it doesn't deal as heavily in the ethereal idealism of the first film or the calculated sophistication of the second, but runs all the bases and spreads further outward and onward, exploring new emotions and histories and anything else that's ripe for the picking. Midnight is also the funniest of the three; with cruelty there is the merciful counterbalance of humor, made all the more wry and sharper by the irony and acridity that surrounds it.

    There is little else to say about what Midnight accomplishes without ruining the film. This is by far the most plot-dependent of the three films (though still not very), and there are emotional surprises to be had along the way. It is the most beautiful of the three films, especially in its opening act, and especially in a scene filmed at a group dinner that uses light so expertly and beautifully that it is numbing in its sheer visual skill.

    It is also the messiest of the films. Sunset remains the closest of the three to perfection. Sunrise had some of the unsteady hand of a young auteur, but Midnight sometimes strays by way of its own ambition, a quality that the first two, especially Sunrise were too cool to have. It lacks the almost calculated efficiency of Sunset but is a more daring film, one that renews my love of these two souls, one that has me counting the days until we may revisit their lives again
    Expand
  3. Jun 4, 2013
    10
    Maybe its the fact that I have grown with these characters, and maybe its because I am currently going through a divorce, but the biting dialogue about marriage, life, death, and parenthood cut through me from the opening scene in the airport to the closing scene on a dock. Breathtaking. A must see. Expand
  4. Jun 23, 2013
    8
    I discuss the movie but give away no plot elements.

    Everyone has their favorite in this trilogy, but I'm not sure if I prefer this to the
    second one (my favorite until now) or not. This third installment is surely more dramatic and closer to a 'regular movie.' There's lots of walking and talking (and driving and talking) in long long long takes, which I love, but there are also quite a few other characters in an earlier scene, which I enjoyed, and quite a fight between the two main characters, which I enjoyed, but which also made the film feel a little less of a piece with the prior two. I'm just mentioning qualities, not saying they were better or worse.

    But I have criticism. The film ends too abruptly. The previous film ended abruptly, but it was perfect as it marked a huge turning point. This fim ended merely in the eye of the storm, not at a truly significant moment. They created a bigger movie than they had space for, and one that didn't fit the walking/talking near real-time conceit of the series. But rather than follow through on that very different film, giving it what it needed on its own terms, they merely cut it short to keep in step with the series' style. Not satisfying for me. I just got hints of the movie they restrained themselves from actually making.

    Also, in Before Sunrise the two had just met; in Before Sunset they saw each other for the first time since that one-day affair in Before Sunrise. BUT in this film they've been together steadily for nine years and yet it doesn't feel that way. Yes there's the ex-wife and his son. But it didn't feel authentic. It felt put on. Either the writing didn't get at it well, or the acting didn't bring it across, or a little of both. I've been with my wife for one year, and I could make a gesture or utter a phrase that would have no meaning for anyone else, but she would know exactly what that phrase or gesture was about, and respond accordingly. There was none of that in this movie. Everything, including all the stuff going to the history of the past 9 years with this couple, was spelled out too much. When you do that the audience understands, but does not believe. You lose authenticity.

    I've seen this done well in films. A gesture or suggestion or word, evokes a response that the audience does not comprehend in granular literal detail, but they get the KIND of thing that's going on. That he has struck a nerve going to some past indiscretion of hers. Or she has said a key word that brings on an old guilt trip he's had laid on him by her time and again. When it is not all spelled out in expository fashion, but we get the gist, that works better. It feels more real. The first two movies did not have to handle this issue because the couple had no history that we had not seen on screen. This one should have handled the issue, but it didn't. So my suspension of disbelief was not quite as complete. Granted this is a nitpicky detail, but it can mark the difference between a good movie or good actor, and great movie or great actor. This film fell squarely on the "good" side of the fence, not the "great" partly for this reason.

    My other criticism goes to the sex. Yes sex. I have nothing against sex scenes normally. Angelina Jolie and Mr. Bandares in the DVD version (not the screen version) of that movie where she plays a mail order bride, naked and grinding explicitly on the bed while the camera watches from above? Go to it, I say! But this movie is very different and it did not work. The two are going to have a fight so, I imagine in order to make the fight seem like a bigger change and more dramatic, they put the two into a very cozy romantic situation just before the fight. And that situation involves Ethan sucking on Julie's breasts, her nipples. Not suggested or simulated but Mr. Hawke gets down and dirty right in front of your face, sucking, pulling, and basically giving any infant in the audience a tutorial on basic survival skills.

    This failed to generate that cozy warm feeling of intimacy for me as a viewer. Instead it made me feel uncomfortable, as if I was getting TMI and was a third wheel in the room and should leave them alone. So I'm sitting their squirming and clearing my throat (hoping they'll notice I'm there and stop) rather than feeling the warm cozy intimacy they are feeling. I just kept thinking, these two actors are friends in real life, good friends but still, they are just friends. Which makes this sooooo awkward. And they're continuing to have their chatty chat while this is going on! Which almost makes it hilarious if it wasn't so weird!

    All of this said, I enjoyed the film. It's darker, much more so than than the previous two. It's also a slighter film where a more involved film was called for. But what was on the screen (sans nipple sucking) though it was not enough I did enjoy.
    Expand
  5. Jul 30, 2013
    7
    Probably the best movie I've seen so far this year, despite the fact that occasionally you're going to want to yell TIME OUT! at the screen. A third act fight scene is so intense that I wanted to reach for the glass of wine I saw on the screen. The film is comprised mostly of long takes, and feature the main stars simply talking. Expand
  6. Jul 11, 2013
    6
    The movie is all talk, lots of it. It's wonderful dialogue primarily between two people and excellent acting. However, the story is a one note samba theme and there is little beyond the talk. A great opportunity for scenery in Greece is wasted. As another reviewer said, it could just be a stage play. I don;t go to the movies to see what I can see in a drama on stage. Expand
  7. Nov 25, 2013
    0
    I would not have attempted to watch this had I realized it was the third of a trilogy. Having not seen the first two, I am completely baffled by the high ratings this movie has. There is absolutely no plot. I can understand enjoying the movie if you're already invested in the characters from the previous tales and just want to spend more time with them, but this completely failed to make me like them, and therefore I didn't care about what they had to say (which is all that happens for the entire movie), so it ended up being a waste of my time. Collapse

See all 57 User Reviews

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